Choreography Labs

Participants at the Conference & Festival have the unique opportunity to work with one of the choreographers selected by the Conference Committee during a week-long rehearsal series culminating in a performance to be presented at the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, August 4, 2013.  Below is information about each of the choreographers and their artistic vision!

Participants must be willing be part of daily evening rehearsals where they will explore and participate in a choreographer’s creative practice and process.  Most rehearsals will happen after the evening concerts from 8:00 pm to 10:00pm.  For a detailed schedule, Click Here for a daily Side-by-Side Schedule.

Each Choreographer has a unique vision and different methodology. Note that there will not be a formal audition. Rather, participants will be able to select the lab they wish to become part of; the intent being to expose participants to new ideas and techniques, and the choreographers to working with individuals from varying backgrounds. If there are more participants interested in participating than space available for a specific lab, or for the success for a choreographer’s process, the choreographers will have the option of selecting the appropriate number of participants from those in attendance at the initial meeting.

Participants interested in being part of this wonderful and unique experience will meet Tuesday, July 30, from 9:30 am to 11:00 am in the Stephen A. Jarislowsky Studio. During this initial meeting, the choreographers will introduce themselves, their choreographic vision, process, and some phrase materials for the participants to explore. Participants will work with the various choreographers to determine which labs interest them and best suit the choreographic vision needs.

Each Choreographic Lab will have two hours each day/evening from Tuesday through Sunday where participants and the choreographer they are working with can explore process and work together in creating a final work. Participants that elect to
be part of a lab need to be willing to dedicate themselves to the Lab series, complete rehearsal schedule, and be open exploring unfamiliar choreographic territories.

We are delighted and excited to offer this new forum of creative and collaborative process for the participants of the WDA-Americas Conference & Festival. We encourage you to attend and take part!

The Re-staging of “Flood”
Lab led by Erin Scheiwe Rockwell, Belhaven University

Erin Rockwell ChoreoLab 1

Premiered at Belhaven University in December 2008, Flood is a visual representation of the qualities of water in a storm. Like raindrops collecting into a rushing stream, the dance builds in visual complexity as the dancers’ bodies are propelled through space and collect into a swirling sea of movement. Originally set on a cast of twelve, this piece is physically demanding and requires proficiency in floor work and release-based modern dance technique as well as comfort with partnering techniques. Within the ChoreoLab the choreographer will re-set the first 5-minute section entitled Raindrops, which has a great range of high-energy and dynamic movement that promises to challenge dancers’ fluidity, floor work, partnering, and ability to dance in unison. In addition to learning set vocabulary, the dancers will be led in choreographic assignments designed to increase individual ownership through the development and integration a personal movement material. (Note: Flood can be viewed online at

Headshot - Erin RockwellERIN SCHEIWE ROCKWELL, a Specialty Instructor of dance at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, holds a BA in dance from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN and a MFA from California State University, Long Beach. She is certified in Pilates with Body Arts and Science International, training under master Pilates instructor and dance scientist, Karen Clippinger, who developed a dance specific repertoire based on classical Pilates technique. With a background in both Pilates and dance, Rockwell enjoys working with diverse populations, tailoring programs in order to help individuals achieve their specific conditioning goals. Artistically, Rockwell concentrates on creating and performing dance works for both stage and screen. Her choreography has been presented around her home state of Colorado and across the Unites States from Los Angeles to New York City. She is co-founder and co-director of Front Porch Dance (, a contemporary dance collective established in 2008.

“Corporecord II”
Lab led by Rebecca Weber, Somanaut Dance

Rebeca Weber - CoreoLab 2“Corporecord II” is a re-setting of a contemporary dance work which explores embodied memories at the intersection between somatic investigation and concert dance. Performers expose their humanity and investigate their own lived memories on stage. The work examines our bodies as catalogues and transmitters of our histories. From provocative or playful to traumatic or troubled, the work evokes the pasts written in our own corporeality.

Performers will explore practices of embodiment and investigate their own somatic memory in exercises designed to draw out implicit memory. Because the work hinges on personal histories, this will be a co-creative process, where dancers will self-generate authentic movement which will then be crafted into the final product, and may vary each time it is performed. The work will culminate in a mélange of improvisational scores, set movement, and partnering work. Though not a requirement, performers with previous Somatics training/experience are especially invited to audition. Honesty, bravery, playfulness, authenticity, and a willingness to expose vulnerabilities are key.

The performance invites audience members to serve as witnesses to dancers’ instantaneous processing and embodied recollection. From provocative or playful to traumatic or troubled, “Corporecord II” evokes the pasts written in our own corporeality.

Headshot - Rebecca WeberREBECCA WEBER is always asking questions and investigating where the body meets the brain—where dance and Somatics intersect. She is an Adjunct Professor in Dance at Temple University, where she recently earned an MFA in Dance and a Teaching in Higher Education Certification. Rebecca holds a Master’s degree with distinction in Dance & Somatic Well-Being from the University of Central Lancashire, in Preston, England, where she served as an Associate Lecturer. As director of Somanaut Dance, her choreography has been presented at various venues in Philadelphia, New York, Georgia, Delaware, and the UK. She is a contributing artist with Movement Brigade and performs for many independent choreographers in Philadelphia. Her research has been published in the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices. Becca is a Co-Editor for the forthcoming book, Dance, Somatics and Spiritualities: Contemporary Sacred Narratives and an Associate Editor for the journal Dance, Movement and Spiritualities. She is also a contributing writer and dance critic at In short, she loves to play with people, space, ideas, and words.

“If you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing”
African proverb

Lab led by Petagay Letren

Petagay Letren - Choreo LabWest African and Caribbean folkloric dance forms embrace the use of the pelvis, angulation of the spine, and play with gravity and rhythm.  These movements are simple exaggerations of movements that people use while performing everyday activities.   I seek to create a choreographic work that incorporates the use of the pelvis and spinal angulations using a post-modern approach.

As a choreographer, I encourage the use of dancer created movement invention and encourage dancers to embellish or manipulate any movement ideas that I present.  I work to combine my movement ideas and dancer created movements or movement phrases. I sometimes manipulate dancer created movement invention, however overall I aim to connect my movements and the dancers movement with organic transitions to the greater concept of the work.

For this choreographic lab, my choreographic process will include exploring the strengths of the dancers and their abilities to accentuate the sway and circular motions of the pelvis as well as moving in a weighted fashion, i.e walking in various patterns using plié and using plié to give into and fight gravity.   In using a post-modern approach, I intend to play with stillness, and creating images.  For this project, I seek to explore creating pictures with stillness and building upon the pictures with pedestrian movement that creates intricate or unconventional movement patterns.

PETAGAY LETREN holds an MFA in choreography from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she also received the Kristina Larson Scholarship for choreography research. She completed the Jant-Bi training course in African Contemporary dance and continues her investigations into African contemporary dance and the influences of folkloric forms on contemporary dance in the 21st century. Past teaching credentials include Florida International University, University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, and Miami Dade College. She currently is a visiting artist at University of Trinidad and Toabgo. Additionally Petagay is the director of Harambee Inc., a non-profit organizations based in South Florida which provides an array of programs and services for the advancement of the arts and sciences including classes in traditional West African dance and drumming. Harambee Inc. has also facilitated numerous programs, cultural events, and workshops including The South Florida African Dance Collective, Let’s Dance Together, Dance Extravaganza, and Dance et tom-tom.