Teaching Philosophy

My approach to dance education is holistic, taking into account the physical, social, emotional, and creative needs of each student and empowering them to become healthy, motivated, and engaged individuals in addition to strong technicians, powerful performers, risk-taking artists, and articulate advocates for the art of dance. In the studio, I prioritize individual creativity and personal expression, collaboration and community engagement, emotional well being, and a personal understanding of technique, rather than an exact recreation of movement. My goal is to help students discover the potential impact that dance can have on their lives outside of the studio.

I recognize that each dancer brings a unique background, circumstances, needs, and goals to the studio, and I work to meet them where they are at as individuals. I encourage dancers to develop their own understanding and performance of technique and artistry, and support them in their social and emotional growth in and out of the studio. I work to foster supportive, inclusive, accepting communities in my classes and rehearsals through mutual respect, empathy, and understanding. Most importantly, I am committed to keeping dancers safe and healthy through appropriate teaching methods and choreography, responsive class management, and making space for creative exploration, reflection and discussion in class and rehearsal.

To each class or choreographic project, I bring 15 years of experience as a performer, choreographer, and educator of ballet, modern, musical theatre, jazz, and jazz-derived forms like lyrical and contemporary. Though my experience and perspective is rooted in Western concert dance, I aim to help my students develop an appreciation for the rich diversity that makes dance a powerful part of the human experience.

Learn more about The Holistic Dance Teacher Approach.

What People Are Saying

I love all the creative ideas you put together in The Holistic Collection of Dance Improvisation Tips & Activities! Encouraging some silliness in activities like the “Wacky Waving Arm Flailing Tube Person” is refreshing! I also really love the variation on Body Writing. I have so many positive things to say about this guide!

I’m one of the many performers and dance educators living in Massachusetts who is currently benefiting from your generosity in releasing The Holistic Guide to Journaling for Dance Students. Thank you for making this wonderful resource available. It’s well loved here in MA!
Jennifer Passios

cogravity dance

I am so honored to have had the privilege of working with Shannon Dooling-Cain as a dancer in my company and as a teacher on my faculty. Her love for dance and creativity was so evident in her performances and how she worked with children. I am also very impressed with the lessons she shares on her blog. As the former Associate Director of Education for New York City Ballet, I have a lot of experience with curriculum development. Shannon has incredible ideas that I find very helpful.
Jennifer Haltzman Tracy

Director, Repertory Dance Theatre and Repertory Ballet Academy