Talawa Technique™ Pedagogical and Teaching Philosophy Statement

The Talawa Technique™ teaching philosophy,  integrates ancestral movements with contemporary sensibilities, emphasizing the Africognosomatic approach that combines cognitive and somatic experiences within an African context. Our pedagogy focuses on expanding technical prowess and movement options, fostering selfpolyfication—the ability to multiply oneself through movement without ever cancelling oneself out—while maintaining cultural sensitivity and inclusivity. We create a holistic learning environment that promotes personal growth, cultural understanding, and creative expression, encouraging dancers to explore their full range of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves. Through strength and conditioning, alignment exercises, and the integration of Rhythmokinetic Prosody, we aim to develop technically proficient, culturally aware, and creatively expressive dancers who honor their heritage and navigate the rich traditions of Africana dance with resilience and adaptability.

Philosophy of Talawa Technique™

The Talawa Technique™, developed by Thomas Talawa Prestø, is an innovative and comprehensive approach to African and African Diaspora dance that integrates ancestral movements with contemporary sensibilities. Our pedagogical philosophy is deeply rooted in the principles of Africognosomatics, which emphasizes the interplay between cognitive processes, somatic experiences, and cultural heritage. The Talawa Technique™ seeks to foster a holistic understanding of dance that encompasses not only technical proficiency but also personal growth, cultural awareness, and creative expression.

Slogan: Ancient Power – Modern Use

Core Pedagogical Principles

1. Multiplication of Options and Technical Prowess

We focus on expanding the dancer’s repertoire of movements and enhancing technical skills to increase the availability of choices. Virtuosity in dance is not merely about technical execution but about the deliberate and thoughtful choices a dancer makes. By offering a multitude of potential movements and rhythms, we enable dancers to navigate and express themselves in diverse and dynamic ways.

2. Selfpolyfication

A central tenet of the Talawa Technique™ is selfpolyfication—the ability to multiply oneself through movement without ever cancelling oneself out. This principle encourages dancers to explore polycentric movement, where multiple centers of the body operate independently yet harmoniously. Full body polycentric engagement enriches the dance experience, allowing for complex, fluid, and dynamic expressions.

3. Technical Foundations

The Talawa Technique™ is grounded in rigorous technical training through the Technical Adaptive Proprioceptic Acumen (T.A.P.A.) system. This system enhances proprioceptive skills, neuromuscular coordination, motor unit recruitment, and muscle synergy. Technical drills and practices like Water Walks help develop balance, stability, and adaptability, ensuring that dancers build a strong and resilient foundation.

4. Holistic and Adaptive Approach

Slogan: Ancient Power – Modern Use
Talawa Technique centers a fully integrated and holistic process that includes strength and conditioning exercises, alignment and proprioceptive exercises, habituation, and training central technical principles that are then repurposed and freed into creative process and expression. Injury prevention, a solid foundation on which to build on, and the ability to navigate the multitude of intelligence and principles of Africana Dance are core to this approach.

Our pedagogy integrates mind-body connection through the Africognosomatic approach, which considers the body as a repository of collective memory and cultural wisdom. This holistic approach emphasizes fluid transitions, adaptability, and resilience, enabling dancers to navigate change gracefully and embody the essence of Africana dance traditions.

5. Inclusive and Sensitive Pedagogy

We are committed to creating an inclusive learning environment that respects and honors cultural heritage. We address cultural appropriation thoughtfully, providing guidance to non-African students to engage respectfully with the material. Our teaching encourages creative expression and personal interpretation, moving beyond mere imitation to foster genuine and meaningful connections to the dance. Additionally, we aim to facilitate the reclaiming of heritage, knowledge, cultural connection, and ancestral power for Afrodescendants.

6. Community and Individuality

Community of Self: We encourage the use of all the body’s corporeal knowledge, integrating the Private Self, the Communal Self, the Technical Self, the Club and Leisure Self, the Playful Self, the Angry Self, and more. All of these selves dance, and we foster them to dance together. Practices such as circle formation foster a sense of unity and mutual support, reducing self-consciousness and encouraging individual expression. By learning in a communal setting, dancers gain confidence and a deeper understanding of their own and others’ movements.

7. Rhythmokinetic Prosody and Gesto-Rhythmitization

We utilize Rhythmokinetic Prosody to link movement qualities with sound qualities, enhancing the understanding of rhythm and movement. Gesto-rhythmitization imbues movements with gestural content, creating a new form of embodied communication that transcends traditional rhythmic patterns and extends into expressive gestures.

Smaddiaesthetics: A Framework for Dancing Well

Smaddiaesthetics, a term coined by Thomas Talawa Prestø and inspired by conversations with Akie DeLeon, is deeply rooted in the Caribbean philosophy of smadditization. Derived from “smaddy” or “somebody” in Caribbean vernacular, smadditization represents the assertion of self-worth, personhood, and identity, especially in the face of societal marginalization. It emphasizes the unique attributes of each dancer, embracing their strengths, body size, shape, range, and personal flair.

In the realm of Africana Dance, “Dancing Well” centralizes these unique attributes, allowing dancers to infuse their personality and embodied experiences into their movements. This contrasts with “Dancing Correct,” which prioritizes technical precision and uniformity over personal expression. Smaddiaesthetics values adaptability and integrative practices, promoting a dance practice that is holistic and expressive.

Building upon the established notion of Dancing Well, the acronym WELL encapsulates its core principles: Wholistic, Expressive, Lively, and Limitless. Wholistic dance considers the dancer’s entire being—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Expressive dance allows individuals to articulate their innermost emotions through movement. Lively dance emphasizes joy and dynamic energy. Limitless dance encourages exploration and transcending boundaries.

Smaddiaesthetics combines somaesthetics (bodily perception and practice) with smadditization, conceptualizing the body and its movements as powerful tools of resistance and affirmation. Through this lens, dance becomes more than an art form—it is a mode of identity assertion and a challenge to dominant narratives. This framework enriches our understanding of Africana dance and reaffirms the transformative power of dance as a medium of personal and collective expression.

Commitment to Cultural and Historical Context

The Talawa Technique™ is deeply committed to preserving and adapting the rich heritage of African and African Diaspora dance. Our approach involves meticulous research and integration of traditional movements with modern dance practices. We aim to create a dynamic and versatile dance framework that respects cultural origins while encouraging innovation and contemporary expression.


Our teaching philosophy is designed to develop technically proficient, culturally aware, and creatively expressive dancers. The Talawa Technique™ not only equips students with the skills necessary for artistic excellence but also fosters personal growth, cultural understanding, and a deep connection to the rich traditions of Africana dance. Through our pedagogical approach, we strive to cultivate a community of dancers who embody the principles of selfpolyfication, choice, and virtuosity in their dance practice and beyond.