Using a Laban Lens

Several posts ago, I wrote about a Laban Movement Analysis course that focuses on dance making inspired by Laban’s movement choir theory. We’ve been working on collaboratively creating a piece as guided by instructor Frederick Curry.

Our process first involved viewing four dance clips that we analyzed as a group using a Laban lens, looking specifically for Body, Effort, Shape or Space qualities. Once everyone agreed on the main themes that each piece exemplified, each of us created a dance phrase using some of those specific movement qualities.

We identified an African piece for “Body,” that involved isolations of the torso, head, and shoulders as the dancers performed in a kneeling position. The “Effort” piece was a segment of “May B” by Compagnie Maguy Marin, which used vocalization rather than music; “Shape” was a classical Indian dance; followed by a Butoh piece for “Space,” that was heavily focused on gesture and the various ways the dancers’ related to their environment.

Then, with Curry acting as the movement choir director, we have created one piece using those phrases or elements from the phrases. The piece itself has a strong framework, but ends up being slightly different each time we perform it because the movements are organic. For example, the piece requires us to take some cues in complete silence, just by watching and responding to the other dancers.

This whole process has not only reinforced the basics of LMA that we had learned in a previous class, but it has been a joint creative experience that could be easily used as a movement or choreographic exercise in any dance classroom.

While our class creation looks nothing like the dance clips we saw, the choreography is clearly inspired by the pieces and the specific lens we viewed them through. We are interested in the responses we’ll get to the piece after members of the dance department and the New York LMA community come to a showing on April 28.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.