Photo: Miranda Meyer

Laila J. Franklin

2022 Run of the Mills Resident

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 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 You are invited to explore a collection of personal objects — physical and digital — that have been archived in grieving processes over the last 3 years in a space activated by live dance and sound performers.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.

Artist Bio

Laila J. Franklin (she/her) is a Boston-based (unceded Massachusett and Pawtucket Land) dance artist and movement researcher from the Washington, DC area (unceded Nacotchtonk and Pistacatoway Land). She is a current dancer and collaborator with little house dance company (ME), under the direction of Heather Stewart. She has worked as a collaborator and performer in projects with Ruckus Dance (MA) and Haus of Pvmnt (NY), as well as performance projects with Miguel Gutierez (NY), Dr. Christopher- Rasheem McMillan (IA/CT), Jennifer Kayle (IA), Melinda Jean Myers (IA), and Stephanie Miracle (IA/DER).

Laila’s choreography has been presented at Third Life Studios (MA), Public Space One (IA), the Boston Conservatory, and the University of Iowa. She is a co-founder and current performing member of Dance Farm Collective, alongside collaborators Michael Landez (TX/IA), Mariko Ishikawa (NC), and Juliet Remmers (KS/IA).

Laila has been working as a teaching artist since 2018. She has taught contemporary dance classes as a part of the Midday Movement Series, served as a teaching assistant at the University of Iowa for 2000-level dance studies courses, and is a SY 2021/2022 adjunct professor of dance at Salem State University.

She holds a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance from The Boston Conservatory, and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Iowa. She has completed additional training through the Trinity Laban Conservatoire (LDN), the Lion’s Jaw Dance and Performance Festival (MA), Movement Research (NY), and the Bates Dance Festival (ME).