Jean Johnson-Jones’s research examines Laban Movement Analysis (LMA), Labanotation (LN) and anthropological methods as effective tools for understanding and documenting movement as cultural code particularly in reference to African Peoples’ Dance.
Her PhD research (The Nama Stap: (Re)Constructing a Cultural Code Among the Nama) involved field-research among the indigenous people of South Africa, the Khoisan, and merges LMA/LN and anthropological methodologies. This research has exposed the need for further research relating to issues concerning the limitation(s) of Laban Analysis to the documentation of non-theatre dance forms and the question of what is ‘African’ Dance in the 21st century
In collaboration with the Centre for Cross-Cultural Music and Dance Performance and Badejo Arts she is analysing and documenting the movement of Bata, a dance tradition of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Outputs from this research will consist of text based and interactive visual scores cataloguing the music, dancing, history, and context of Bata in its home context and the Diaspora. Extended research will address Bata in its western context in which transformations in the form will be examined.
About the piece Water Study (1928)
Choreography: Doris Humphrey Staged by: Jean Johnson Jones
Choreographed by Doris Humphrey, one of the ‘pioneers’ of the American modern dance movement, Water Study is performed by an ensemble of ten (sometimes fourteen) female dancers. It is performed without external accompaniment—music or sound—and projects Humphrey’s mastery of spatial design, her characteristic use of energy, dynamics, body/breath rhythm, and celebrated ‘fall and recovery’ phrasing. This restaging of Water Study is a reconstruction from the Labanotated score. The reconstruction is distinctive in its approach to the revival of the dance.
Through the application of the principles of various somatic body practices such as: Bartenieff Fundamentals, Body Mind Cantering, Laban Movement Analysis, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates, the dancers were introduced to the ‘Humphrey style’ as revealed in Water Study. This approach to the dance provided the dancers with a contemporary view of Humphrey’s style and a connection with a dance material that they had little, if any, bodily experience of.