Lester Horton

 (23 January 1906 – 2 November 1953)

Lester Horton became a legend in modern dance, developing his own technique and establishing his own dance company. Much of his style and technique is reflected today in leading modern dance company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.Horton is largely recognized for developing his modern dance technique, known as the “Horton Technique” (shown in the video below). It develops the body as an instrument of movement and improves the dancer’s physical limitations.The technique is very interesting to study and works with an energy that is constantly in motion. Like all styles of dance, the technique is demanding on the mind and the body. Horton was fascinated by clear shapes and how a dancer can move with these shapes through the space.The technique is dynamic and dramatic with a similar style to jazz dance. For example, there are flat backs and lateral stretches, tilt lines and lunges, which are movements you would find in a jazz or modern class warm up.Horton was an American dancer, choreographer and teacher. He was a huge influence on dancers of all kinds and made a particular impact on one of his pupils, Alvin Ailey.
Ailey wrote in his autobiography, “What it came down to was that, for Lester, his art was much more important than the color of a dancer’s skin”. Horton was among the first choreographers in the U.S to urge upon racial integration in his company.
By 1946, Horton established the Lester Horton Dance Theater in Los Angeles and it was one of the first permanent theaters devoted to modern dance in the US.