Music for Class: Lauren Adams

Soulful songs for contemporary choreography

The versatility and quirk in Lauren Adams’ choreography makes her a hit on the convention scene. She attributes her success to a wandering imagination. “I get bored really easily,” she says. “I’m always looking to surprise and push myself, which also pushes the dancers.”

That’s why Adams is always searching for something new to inform contemporary movement. Lately, that something has been ballroom. “I’m studying international Latin and every style has its own timing. The way I hear music has totally changed,” she says. “The movement is so grounded and the hands are almost similar to Balanchine. They’re so three-dimensional.”

In the early stages of a new piece, Adams trusts her intuition. She admits that her choreography often doesn’t make sense, even to herself, until later in the process. “It’s hard to make a dance say something in three minutes. The strongest way is for me to develop variations off a choreographic theme and to make sure the dancers feel something through the work,” she says. “I don’t like to leave a room until I’ve gotten chills.” DT

Artist: Roberta Flack

Song: “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

“This is my favorite version of the song and my favorite live vocal performance of all time. It is great as a warm-up or something to play while just learning movement. It makes everyone take a breath and close their eyes because there’s so much gratitude in the music.”


Artist: Aretha Franklin

Song: “Ain’t No Way”

“This is what I wish I sounded like when I sing. It’s very sensual. I love to embrace the woman dancer and I love being feminine. This song is great for a female solo. It will truly make her feel like she’s a star.”



Artist: Justin Vernon

Song: “Song for a Lover of Long Ago”

“I think this is my favorite song of all time. It’s gritty with lots of silence and clinking. You don’t always know what he is singing, so it’s more about reading his tone. It’s super sad, but I love directing with this because it brings out an honest narrative.”


Artist: Perry Como

Song: “Ave Maria”

“I don’t hear anyone ever use this version and I think it’s really special. There’s something about it that makes you feel like you’re spending time with an old companion. It just feels important.”



Artist: Groove Armada

Song: “History (Love Mix)”

“This song has a joy that just makes me smile. It’s a palate cleanser, especially when I have been working on something dark. I’ll switch to this because it allows me to experience whatever wants to come through my dancing. And I’ll put any phrase to it and it will work.”


Artist: Gillian Welch

Song: “Revelator” (explicit)

“There’s a swear word in this, but I love it so much that I edited it out. It has so much fire and power that it puts everyone on the same playing field, men and women. The heat in it makes me want to jump and punch and scream and move.”


Photo courtesy Lauren Adams

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

Keep reading... Show less
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.