As a young choreographer, its necessary to find already-established choreographers that I can draw inspiration from. There are many greats out there who are amazingly successful and popular, but not all of them appeal to my personal choreographic preferences. So, in an attempt to share more dance-related topics to “the masses” on the internet, I’ve decided to share two choreographers that I find to be the most inspiring. Although there are a lot of choreographic works that I believe are quite inspiring, there are very few choreographers that I follow “religiously” for lack of a better term. I have never been one to “name-drop” within the dance community, probably due to the fact that I have trouble remembering many of the important choreographers’ names that most dancers know off the tops of their heads. However, there are a few that stick with me, and I think there’s a good reason for it. So, without further ado, here are two choreographers that inspire me:
1. Noemie Lafrance
Noemie Lafrance is a Canadian choreographer based in New York City who specializes in site-specific, large-scale, and commercial dance works. Now, I don’t tend to prefer choreographers who have done tons of commercial work or back-up dancer choreography for pop singers, but for Noemie Lafrance, I make an exception. She appeals to me in her ability to combine spatial patterns and pedestrian-style movement with site-specific choreography. She also uses costume as a part of her choreography to create yet another level of visual stimulation, which I personally enjoy due to my interest in art and fashion.
If her name doesn’t sound familiar to you, maybe this will ring a bell: “1,2,3,4, tell me that you love me more…” yes, that’s right, Lafrance was responsible for choreographing that viral music video for Feist’s “1234” that was almost reminiscent of a Gap or Apple commercial. Oh that’s right, it was also featured in an iPod Nano commercial! How could I forget? If you can’t already tell, my sarcasm on the matter hints at a strange combination of admiration, dislike and jealousy, further proving my point that I don’t generally enjoy commercial choreographers. Lafrance, however, has also created some amazing site-specific works that did not involve any pop singers or extremely loud clothing. For instance, her signature work called Descent, which was performed in a stairwell is not only visually appealing, but also entertaining in a more subtle manner. She also created a work called Rapture Series that involved dancers on harnesses repelling from large metallic structures designed by architect, Frank Gehry. Overall, I feel that Noemie Lafrance has the ability to appeal to the dance community as well as the masses, which is a major reason why she’s one of my favorites.
2. Ohad Naharin
Ohad Naharin is an Israeli choreographer who danced Martha Graham’s work in the Batsheva Dance Company, and then trained at NYC’s Juliard and SAB (School of American Ballet). He is now the Artistic Director of Batsheva, and he has also developed an entire dance technique called Gaga (no, it has nothing to do with Lady Gaga), which is quite unconventional in opposition to his classical training. I was fortunate enough to see Batsheva perform live at UCLA a few years ago, and from then on, I’ve been a big fan. There was only one thing I can really remember not liking about that performance, which was the fact that there was a bit too much nudity for my taste. However, the movement style alone was enough to keep me interested.
As for Noemie Lafrance, what I like most about her work is her use of space and patterns. With Ohad Naharin, its the movement itself that draws me to his work. His movement quality resonates with me because its very similar to the style the I prefer. His use the space is also very interesting, but the reason why he is one of my favorite choreographers is due to his movement style. One of my goals in life is to take a gaga movement class someday.
Below is a short dance film performed by Batsheva Dance Company that I feel exemplifies the style I’m referring to. Although I believe the movement was created by the dancers themselves (I’m unsure, so correct me if I’m wrong in the comments below), this film is definitely in keeping with Naharin’s overall style that he brought to Batsheva during his time there as Artistic Director.
Final Thoughts: I understand that many may look at this post and completely 100% disagree, but I think that’s what makes dance and art so great. Everyone has their own opinions. These are the two choreographers that I always go back to for inspiration, and they have helped me to better understand my own artistic personality. I hope that this post has inspired you to research your favorite choreographers to better understand your visual and movement preferences.