Ross M. Lence Teaching Award for Teaching Excellence in the Performing or Visual Arts
Assistant Professor of Dance
School of Theatre & Dance
Becky Valls is a rare case, as a colleague put it, she is an "extraordinary technique teacher" who also teaches Dance History and Pedagogy courses.
Prof. Valls writes that “we construct knowledge through the physical body and cognitive mind which are always working in tandem… when we embody knowledge we engage with information in a different way.”
All of her courses thus include physical performance and critical response, engaging students’ bodies and minds. In dance technique classes, students research, write and discuss aspects of dance. In dance history, they learn and perform historical dances.
Student letters mention her as a gifted teacher but also as a mentor, generous with her time, encouraging her students to undertake senior projects and guiding them in career development.
Prof. Valls created the Young Audience Touring (YAT) company, which not only provides UH dance students with outside performing opportunities. This company also demonstrates her theory of mind/body learning. Performing programs like “Dance of the Insects,” and “Under the Sea” at elementary schools throughout HISD, the YAT uses dance to teach elementary students science and biology.
Our students consider Prof. Valls a role model for themselves as future teachers/performers. According to one student Valls knows “the upside, downs and everything in between about dance.” Another called her “a helpful dancing mother, who always makes sure we are on top of things.” Finally, one student summed it up by writing “Yay dance!”
Nominator Associate Prof. Teresa Chapman explained Prof. Valls provides students with necessary tools “whether they choose to pursue a career in the dance field or join the traditional work force.”
Congratulations, Professor Rebecca Valls.