Modern Dance Challenge: Take a Horton Technique Class!

by Marketing Intern Rachael Appold

Edward Franklin

Have you ever wanted to mirror the long lines and awe-worthy movements of an Alvin Ailey dancer? Have you ever wondered how these dancers become so skilled in both technique and performance quality? Then come take a Horton Technique class with Edward Franklin! See the full modern class schedule here.                               

Alvin Ailey dancers train in Horton Technique. Horton Technique was created by Lester Horton, a pioneer of modern dance. The technique borrows elements from different cultural dances, including Afro-Caribbean, Balinese, and Native American folk dance. Although the exact structure of the movements are up for interpretation by the instructor, the goal of extending a dancer’s physical limitations remains the same in every Horton Technique class. This technique can be seen in many famous dance pieces choreographed by Alvin Ailey.

When I found out that Joy of Motion Dance Center offers a Horton Technique class, I rushed to join in! I had some previous training in the technique but I am definitely not a professional. Luckily, former Alvin Ailey and PhilaDanco dancer, Edward Franklin is an amazing teacher for students of all levels! The class began with roll downs and pliés to wake up the knees and hips before moving into flat backs and lunges. By the time we began our fortification studies, I was already drenched in sweat!

The fortification studies in Horton Technique focus on strengthening, fortifying, and stretching through a series of movements that attend to different parts of the body. Altogether, there are 17 Fortifications within the Horton Technique. Learning each and every sequence would take hours, so Edward instructed us through Fortifications 1-6. adult_jazz7_JOMDC_DN_72Each Fortification is challenging, but the coccyx balances in Fortification 6 will leave your core feeling stronger than ever before!

After completing the Fortifications, we moved into a series of across-the-floor leg swings. Edward kept this section of the class moving at a quick pace, adding modifications to the leg swings each time we went across. This presented a challenge for both the body and the mind. When the across-the-floor movements were done, Edward taught us a beautiful combination which incorporated the technical elements we had learned in class, and combined it with performance quality.

Edward gave one correction during this section of the class; we should all choose a motivation for each movement and embody it. “This first movement may be solemn,” Edward stated during the class. “Then this next movement may be more joyful.” I found that changing my motivation within the same combination was even more challenging than executing the technical elements.

The class ended with one last across-the-floor, in which we moved our hips in a “figure 8” pathway while holding our arms in a downward bent position. After we finished traveling across the floor, Edward asked us to demonstrate the arm position. “Good,” he said as we all moved into position. “Now add an intention to it. If you can do this, then you can do Horton.”
Are you up for the challenge of a Horton Technique class? You can sign up here!