28.6.12

The Horton Technique

“I am sincerely trying now to create a dance technique based entirely on corrective exercises, created with a knowledge of human anatomy, a technique that will correct faults and prepare a dancer for any type of dancing he may wish to follow, a technique having all basic movements which govern the actions of the body, combined with a knowledge of the origins of the movements and a sense of artistic design.” Horton

Horton is a major codified modern dance technique reputed to fortify, stretch, and strengthen the human body. A technique created by Mr. Ailey’s mentor Lester Horton in the 1930's and 1940's. A modern dance pioneer, Horton’s goal was to create a dance technique that was anatomically corrective and utilized the widest possible range of motion, with an emphasis on large, full movements done to musical phrases of varying lengths and dynamics.

Horton was trying to create a dance technique based entirely upon 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 actions of the body, combined with a knowledge of the origin of movement and a sense of artistic design

In an interview Horton stated: “I am sincerely trying to create a dance technique based entirely upon 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 actions of the body, combined with a knowledge of the origin of movement and a sense of artistic design”. (from the book American Dancer Pierre, Dorathi Bock (New York, NY October 1937, pg. 37.

The basic warm involves: flat backs, primitive squat, descent and ascent, lateral stretches, release swings, leg swings and deep lunges. The shapes that are used throughout the training in Horton technique are emphasized: the T positions, stag position, cross lunge and coccyx balance. The Horton technique was designed with studies to stretch and strengthen different areas of the body. Many of the beginning level studies which are taught focus on the Achilles tendon, the abdominal muscles, and movements that lengthen the spine and the hamstring muscles. Simple combinations of movements that include turns and jumps are taught to introduce musicality and dynamics to the beginning dancer's vocabulary. Performance qualities are emphasized at the very beginning of the dancer's training.

See also: * The Dance Technique of Lester Horton, Majorie B. Perces, Ana Marie Forsythe, Cheryl Bell, ©1992 Princeton Book Company


Students in DA123 demonstrate Horton technique for a master class with Judith Jamison. Photo by Andreas Randow


Horton, Lester
The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. - 2011.

Lester Horton 1906–53, American modern dancer, choreographer, and teacher, b. Indianapolis. Moving to California in 1928, Horton formed his own company in Los Angeles and also performed in theater, films, and nightclubs. He became one of the country's most influential choreographers, incorporating such diverse elements as Native American dances and modern jazz into works of striking originality and drama. His influence is reflected in the work of his pupil Alvin Ailey. Other well-known dancers who worked in his company include Carmen deLavallade, Arthur Mitchell, and James Truitte. Horton's company continued to perform after his death until 1960.