Research

Broadly, my interests address four central themes:

1. Interdisciplinary Collaboration: I am investigating ways of working across artistic platforms and methods of working. This research has two basic basic foci: a) examination of historically significant collaborations between movement, visual, and sound-based artists, and b) contemporary collaboration with other artists in my own practice-led research/creative work.

2. Dance Theatre: I am developing a theoretical model to enhance my own artistic practice in making dance theatre. It is my expectation that this model will also serve as a lens for scholarly examinations of historical works of dance theatre. Currently, I am examining the place of performative ritual and narrative in Africanist concert dance art as these choreographic elements evolved in the United States during the last century. Specifically, I am looking at the evolution of liminal (threshold) ritual and its relevance in the works of Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, and Bill T. Jones; how that relates to narrative/storytelling, and the impact it has on marginalized communities (as audience or artist) during performance.

3. Embodied Research: This is an examination of physical research in the studio that may address choreographic or dance training practices. I am interested in a) how we develop theoretical constructs and conduct movement-based research, b) how we apply or utilize our findings in teaching or artistic contexts, and c) how we adapt spoken or written language that conveys an approximation of the kinetic information discerned via these practices and investigations.

My book, Introduction to Modern Dance Techniques (Princeton Book Company, 13 October 2011), is an examination of the development of modernist dance training practices from the early modern era through the late 1950s. It can be read as a comparative examination of nine modernist/early postmodernist training methodologies and bodies of choreography (Cunningham, Dunham, Graham, Hawkins, Horton, Humphrey, Limón, Nikolais/Louis, and Taylor). Tracing a departure from ballet in the late 1880s, I place the development of these systematic approaches to modernist dance preparation in anthro-historical/socio-cultural context. Just as I look at the ideation of each choreographer, I also consider politics, race, gender and economic concerns affecting training along the modernist timeline. The book includes practical studio materials illustrating various aspects of each training methodology.

4. Business & Entrepreneurship for Dancers: Over the last few years, I have given several talks on business and entrepreneurship for dancers and musicians. This is pointing toward additional paths in my research and teaching, and in 2016, it led to the creation of a semester-long course on business for dancers.

– Joshua Legg
August 2017