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What is Horton Technique?

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By Danielle Pierce-Master, MA Dance / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance(Performing Arts)

If you’ve ever seen Alvin Ailey’s Masterpiece Revelations, you have witnessed the Horton Technique. It is a codified modern dance technique rooted in clear lines and shapes, with an important attention paid to musical dynamics.

The Horton Warm-Up begins in the center with Spinal Articulations, Flat Backs, and Laterals. There are 6 “Preludes,” and 17 “ Fortifications,” choreographed studies that are designed to challenge the dancers’ minds and bodies.

Horton once said, ”I am sincerely trying now to create a dance technique based entirely on corrective exercises, created with a knowledge of human anatomy; a technique which will correct physical faults and prepare a dancer for any type of dancing he may wish to follow; a technique having all the basic movements which govern the action of the body; combined with a knowledge of the origin of movement and a sense of artistic design…’

Lester Horton was an American Modern Dance pioneer who worked in California. His work was inspired by his childhood growing up in the valleys of Indiana, where he was exposed to and fascinated by Indigenous Culture. As he worked as a choreographer, Horton lacked dancers with the skills necessary to perform his work, so he trained them, developing his technique in the process.

His Company, the Lester Horton Dance Theater, was the first integrated dance company in the United States. Horton died young, and it is not typically his body of choreographic work that he is remembered for, but his technique and the alums of his company who had illustrious careers of their own: Bella Lewitsky, Carmen DeLavallade, James Truitte, and Alvin Ailey.

This page is just one of hundreds of definitions of the many styles and genres of dance. This library is being continually added to by the writers and contributors of Dance Parent 101!