Laila J. Franklin (b. 1997, she/her) is a dance maker, performer, teacher, administrator, and writer based in the territory of the Massachusett and Pawtucket peoples (Boston, Massachusetts), by way of unceded territory of the Nocotchotonk and Piscataway peoples (Washington, DC.)
Her work explores kinetic imagination through the rigor of juxtaposing virtuosic and intimate performances. She approaches composition with particular attention to framing and environments. She thinks of the stage as a fishbowl, a terrarium, a diorama, a dollhouse -- a portal, or a container to investigate the complicated nature of being a moving body in the world. Her work extends from lineages of black and queer experimental dance makers, with a particular interest in postmodern improvisatory movement practices and aesthetics, and dance theater.
Her performance and collaboration credits include projects with 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 by Public Space One (IA), Loculus Collective Sideways Door Festival (MA), Movement Research at The Judson Church (NY), Bates Dance Festival Works In Progress Showing (ME), Lion’s Jaw Dance and Performance Festival’s The Thing (MA), and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee (MA). She is a recipient of a Boston Center for the Arts 2022 Run of the Mills Residency, a 2022/2023 Dancemakers Laboratory Residency, and a 2023/2024 Boston Dancemakers Residency.. While a graduate student, Laila was an Iowa Arts Fellow 2019-2021 and served as a 2023 Dance/USA Archiving and Preservation fellow to Jennifer Harge/HargeDanceStories
Laila has been working as a teaching artist since 2018. She has taught contemporary dance classes as a part of the Midday Movement Series (MA) and as a teaching artist for VLA Dance (MA), and has served as a teaching assistant at the University of Iowa, and a SY2021/2022 Visiting Lecturer in Music and Dance at Salem State University (MA). Expanding this work, she also serves as a consultant and collaborator for social justice education projects and programming for Midday Movement Series.
She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance Performance from The Boston Conservatory and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Iowa. She is a proud graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DC) and has completed additional training through the Trinity Laban Conservatoire (LDN), the Lion's Jaw Dance and Performance Festival (MA), Movement Research (NY), The Field Center (VT), and the Bates Dance Festival (ME).
I am invested in the (in)visibility of lived experience. I use my practice to explore kinetic imagination and explore new possible futures. .
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 challenge neoliberal, patriarchal, white-centered value systems of labor and aesthetics historically upheld in dance by facilitating processes and holding practices steeped in values of care, justice, and an ethic of love. This is achieved by: working collaboratively, with a specific interest in bringing together diverse groups of creators, committing to the development of cross/inter/multidisciplinary relationships and approaches, practicing the ethical treatment of all collaborators, and transparent communication at all steps of collaboration and creation.
Through this framework and ethic, I create original dance work characterized by emphatic virtuosity, refined orientation to detail, specificity of character and setting, and a distinctly human quality of content.