Native American Dance: Lester Horton Technique

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Lester Horton Lester Iradell Horton was born January 23, 1906 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Iradell and Pollyanna Horton. As a child he was interested in Native American culture, which is also what sparked his interest in dance. He studied several Native American tribes including, the Iroquois, Red River Indians, Penobscot, and Ojibway. Horton also studied ballet for two years, and took classes at the Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis while working for the Indianapolis Little Theatre. Horton moved to Los Angeles, California in 1929 for work and remained there until his passing in 1953, which was perceived as odd considering that New York City was recognized as the center modern dance. Horton created his own dance company in 1932 called …show more content…
The Horton Technique incorporates various forms of dance like jazz and lyrical. The movements often focus on “circular movements stretching in opposite directions.” Another noteworthy concept from his technique is that, as opposed to most dance classes, where warm-ups occur on the ground or focusing on a particular part of the body, Horton believed that a standing warm-up was a more efficient way of getting the body ready to dance and blood flowing …show more content…
The particular way that a Horton Technique class is taught varies upon the teacher/school, however The Ailey School uses 17 “fortification studies” that each focus on a different idea, such as descent/ascent and laterals, or body parts such as the Achilles tendons or abdominals. The class then progresses across the floor with movement phrases, turns and single-foot arch springs (similar to how our own class is set up). The Horton technique is an organized syllabus that is separated into different categories composed of detailed exercises called “Studies”, which include Projections, Preludes, Rhythms, Improvisations, and Fortifications. The Fortifications are considered the core of Horton technique. They establish a base work of movement mechanics, of muscle development and coordination, flexibility and range, rhythm and timing of movement, and movement quality. The Fortifications were designed to strengthen and the stretch the muscles. Each fortification targets a specific part of the body and quality of movement. The Horton technique is known for being exceptionally dramatic and powerful. You can literally see the strength that it takes to perform this technique, as well as the energy that emits from the

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