Photo: Jonathan Hsu

Laila J. Franklin

2022-2023 Dancemakers Laboratory Resident
2022 Run of the Mills Resident

Artist Bio

Laila J. Franklin (b. 1997, she/her) is a Boston-based (Massachusett and Pawtucket Land) dance artist and movement researcher from the Washington, DC area (Nacotchtonk and Pistacatoway Land). Her work is grounded in the politics of visibility, citation, erasure, and legibility. A cacophony of embodied presence, vibrant in its bursts of physical virtuosity, she is curious about the intimacy and vibration of stillness and silence, juxtaposed by the disorientation and fullness of excess. She is interested in body histories and archives and the process of transforming embodied knowledge into generative movement material.

Her performance and collaboration credits include projects with little house dance company (ME), Ruckus Dance (MA), and Haus of Pvmnt (NY); and projects with Miguel Gutierrez, Dr. Christopher-Rasheem McMillan, Jennifer Kayle, Melinda Jean Myers, Stephanie Miracle, and Bo Frazier. While an undergraduate student, Laila had the opportunity to perform work by Keith Thompson, Aszure Barton, and Mark Morris.

Laila’s choreography has been presented through Third Life Studios (MA), Public Space One (IA), the Boston Conservatory, and the University of Iowa. She is a recipient of a 2022 Run of the Mills Residency through the Boston Center for the Arts Mills Gallery. She is also a recipient of a 2022 Alumni Choreographic Commission through The Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

Laila has been working as a teaching artist since 2018. She has taught in the Boston community through Midday Movement Series in their 2018-2019 shuffle cohort and is a current teaching artist for VLA Dance. She has served in higher education as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Iowa for 2000-level dance studies courses and as an SY2021/2022 Visiting Lecturer of dance at Salem State University (MA). Expanding this work, she also serves as a consultant, collaborator, and facilitator for social justice education projects and programming for Midday Movement Series.

She holds an M.F.A in Dance from the University of Iowa, a B.F.A in Contemporary Dance Performance from The Boston Conservatory and is an alumna of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC. She has completed additional training through the Trinity Laban Conservatoire (LDN), the Lion’s Jaw Dance and Performance Festival (MA), The Field Center (VE), Movement Research (NY), and the Bates Dance Festival (ME).

Project Description: BABYBABYBABY (2022-2023 Dancemakers Laboratory)

BABYBABYBABY is a dance about love. It stumbles through the irrational, the silly, the earnest, the messy, and the sincere. It seeks to explore the ways we contend with the precarity of trust, impulsivity, and continuity, attempting to work from a visceral physicality. It is about yearning for grand gestures and mundanity. It is about the ever-shifting landscape of partnership.

A central pillar of my work, and of this work in particular, is cultivating a sense of genuine trust, care, and openness among the ensemble. This research period will focus on expanding movement vocabulary for partnering and proximal duet work with a small ensemble of dancers, with a specific interest in virtuosity and risk, with the intention of expanding this world into an evening-length work or installation.

Artist Statement

I improvise, I score, I fail, I score again, I usually laugh, and there is a small chance I cry, and, in that case, I have tissues.

I am invested in the (in)visibility of lived experience. I use my practice to explore kinetic imagination and explore new possible futures. I build fishbowls, terrariums, and dioramas. My work seeks to create a container for the complicated nature of being a moving body in the world.

My work is grounded in the politics of visibility, citation, erasure, and legibility. A cacophony of embodied presence, vibrant in its bursts of physical virtuosity, I am curious about the intimacy and vibration of stillness and silence, juxtaposed by the disorientation and fullness of excess. I am interested in body histories and archives and the process of transforming embodied knowledge into generative movement material. Through collaborative processes, I seek to disrupt the ways we’ve been taught to see, ourselves and others.

I seek to heal and liberate myself and others from neoliberal, white supremacist value systems of labor and aesthetics in dance by facilitating processes steeped in the values of care and justice, holding space for the beyond.

Project Description: GRIEF OBJECTS (Spring, 2022)

GRIEF OBJECTS is a multidisciplinary gallery walk and performance, and an invitation to enliven and reconsider the ways we engage with the various waves of grief that seem to engulf us so frequently right now. You are invited to explore a collection of personal objects — physical and digital — that have been archived in grieving processes over the last 3 years in a space activated by live dance and sound performers.

GRIEF OBJECTS is the catharsis of dusting off that box that has been hiding under your bed for the last year or the one in your grandfather’s attic that has gone untouched for decades. Why do we hold onto these objects? Why do we organize? What is storage versus an archive? How do the objects of grief constantly object to grief? When do they become gifts?

GRIEF OBJECTS seeks to hold space for grief, longing, and disarray while objecting to our traditional, cultural aesthetic assumptions of grief and the (perceived) excess that comes with it. This performance was developed in collaboration with Kate Gow and David Dogan.