Laila J. Franklin (b. 1997) is a dance artist and movement researcher from the Washington, DC area. She is currently based in Iowa City, IA, pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Choreography at the University of Iowa as an Iowa Arts Fellow. She is a graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance Performance, with an emphasis in composition, from The Boston Conservatory. She has completed additional training through the Ailey School Professional Division Summer Intensive (NYC), Trinity Laban Conservatoire Summer School (London), and Lion's Jaw Dance and Performance Festival (Boston). Laila has performed work by artists such as Aszure Barton, Keith A. Thompson, Mark Morris, Zoe Scofield, Gabriel Anderson, and Stephanie Miracle. She has worked as a collaborator with Ruckus Dance (Boston), as well as on performance projects with Dr. Christopher-Rasheem McMillan, Jennifer Kayle, and Melinda Jean Meyers. She is a co-founder and current member of Dance Farm Collective.
I am invested in the (in)visibility of lived experience. I am curious about the residues of subjugation and erasure in the body and use my practice to explore kinetic imagination. I use movement to make seemingly invisible materials, such as stored memories, sensations, or erased histories, visible through the body in performance.
My work is grounded in the politics of visibility, citation, erasure, and legibility. I creatively explore body histories and archives, transforming embodied knowledge into generative materials. My work seeks to create a container for the complicated nature of being a moving body in the world, inviting dancers to explore their own identities and positionalities through collaborative modes of making.
My solo practice investigates black subjectivity in performance. Drawing from black performance theory and performance studies, I create solo work that seeks to sense, activate, identify, and recontextualize inherited and subjugated movement patterns that live within my bodily archive. Further complicating itself, the work also seeks to hold space to excavate social and culturally derived movement practices and concepts. This practice is one of dizzying references, leaning into highly vulnerable embodied offerings of my internal processing of identity, ownership, and presence.
I seek to heal and liberate myself and others from 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.
Photos by Ayana Kjonaas