Music for Class: Lauren Adams
February 1, 2013

Soulful songs for contemporary choreography

The versatility and quirk in Lauren Adams’ choreography makes her a hit on the convention scene. She attributes her success to a wandering imagination. “I get bored really easily,” she says. “I’m always looking to surprise and push myself, which also pushes the dancers.”

That’s why Adams is always searching for something new to inform contemporary movement. Lately, that something has been ballroom. “I’m studying international Latin and every style has its own timing. The way I hear music has totally changed,” she says. “The movement is so grounded and the hands are almost similar to Balanchine. They’re so three-dimensional.”

In the early stages of a new piece, Adams trusts her intuition. She admits that her choreography often doesn’t make sense, even to herself, until later in the process. “It’s hard to make a dance say something in three minutes. The strongest way is for me to develop variations off a choreographic theme and to make sure the dancers feel something through the work,” she says. “I don’t like to leave a room until I’ve gotten chills.” DT

Artist: Roberta Flack

Song: “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

“This is my favorite version of the song and my favorite live vocal performance of all time. It is great as a warm-up or something to play while just learning movement. It makes everyone take a breath and close their eyes because there’s so much gratitude in the music.”


Artist: Aretha Franklin

Song: “Ain’t No Way”

“This is what I wish I sounded like when I sing. It’s very sensual. I love to embrace the woman dancer and I love being feminine. This song is great for a female solo. It will truly make her feel like she’s a star.”



Artist: Justin Vernon

Song: “Song for a Lover of Long Ago”

“I think this is my favorite song of all time. It’s gritty with lots of silence and clinking. You don’t always know what he is singing, so it’s more about reading his tone. It’s super sad, but I love directing with this because it brings out an honest narrative.”


Artist: Perry Como

Song: “Ave Maria”

“I don’t hear anyone ever use this version and I think it’s really special. There’s something about it that makes you feel like you’re spending time with an old companion. It just feels important.”



Artist: Groove Armada

Song: “History (Love Mix)”

“This song has a joy that just makes me smile. It’s a palate cleanser, especially when I have been working on something dark. I’ll switch to this because it allows me to experience whatever wants to come through my dancing. And I’ll put any phrase to it and it will work.”


Artist: Gillian Welch

Song: “Revelator” (explicit)

“There’s a swear word in this, but I love it so much that I edited it out. It has so much fire and power that it puts everyone on the same playing field, men and women. The heat in it makes me want to jump and punch and scream and move.”


Photo courtesy Lauren Adams

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