Teachers' Tools: Bryn Cohn

Cohn emphasizes clarity in every part of the body. “I like to see attention to detail in the fingers quite a bit,” she says.

All you have to do is follow my voice,” says Bryn Cohn to her advanced contemporary class at Peridance Capezio Center in New York City. Cohn uses guided improvisation to awaken her students’ minds and bodies before delving into contemporary technique that blends ballet with classical modern.

She has the class walk around the room while thinking about the idea of expansion. “I use the idea of seeing the whole space, seeing everyone inside of it and recognizing details about the architecture of the room as a means of warming up the mind and developing a really active cognizance,” she says. Walking transitions into running as Cohn progressively adds speed and rigor to the improv score. She brings the group’s attention to weight shifts, coming back to the central idea of how the body relates to gravity. “Then we start to bring it in,” she says. “Everything starts to shrink, and we come into an interior place of using that active mental power to work into structure and technique.”

Many of Cohn’s students are ballet dancers, so she likes to use ballet vocabulary to establish form in the lower body while letting the students design their own port de bras and head and neck movements. This helps them build confidence in making choices. “There is choice within everything,” she says. “There is choice within structure. There is even choice within a plié at the barre. Every single action gets highly considered.” DT

 

FAVORITE FOOTWEAR: “While I have been known to sport a wide array of colorful socks, recently I have been dancing barefoot, which enables me to feel a tangible sense of weightedness into the floor.”

 

RECOMMENDED READING: For personal enjoyment, books by her favorite authors: Haruki Murakami, David Sedaris and Dave Eggers. 

 

 

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Works by Crystal Pite, David Dorfman and Hofesh Shechter.

 

 

FAVORITE NONDANCE ACTIVITIES: “Being a California girl, I love getting outside any opportunity I can. This could mean riding my bike in Brooklyn, playing kickball or going for a long walk from one end of Manhattan to the other.”

 

 

 

 

NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT: Headphones, two dance journals (“One to record my choreographic process and the other to plan my classes”) and sparkling water.

 

 

 

 

Photos: by Jaqlin Medlock, courtesy of Cohn; Thinkstock (2)

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