According to psychologists, dance can not only help improve our mood and fitness, it can aid creativity and make us feel more alive. Jini Reddy discovers how even novice dancers have no excuse not to get their bodies moving
My toes are gripping the springy floor and I scan the room. I’m relieved to see that none of my fellow dancers are in a tutu. Our ages run the gamut from 18 to 80 and collectively we’ll never make it onto the West End stage. But no one much cares. The reason? This is a Laban Dance Movement Choir and experience, age and appearance are irrelevant.
“A movement choir is a means of touching and enhancing one’s inner life,” explains choreographer and lecturer Anna Carlisle at a talk that precedes the workshop at Guildford’s University of Surrey. “It’s about simplicity of movement and enabling people to experience alone and together the emotional, physical and spiritual forces united in dance. It’s not necessarily designed for performance to an audience.”
It’s a fantastically accessible form of community dance and a chance to join a large group of people (both trained dancers and novices alike) and over the course of a day or afternoon to work together to create a piece of choreography known as a choir. It was dreamed up in the 1920s by Rudolf Von Laban, a performer and choreographer who was based in Germany and then England. Today, the Laban Guild, which promotes dance and movement inspired by him, is trying to bring it to more people.
“Movement choirs are very much needed in these days of speed, electronic devices, adulation of left-brain thinking, self-centredness and individualism,” says Carlisle.