Patrick Corbin: Moving modern dance forward

by Dance

Student dancer Jun Shepard '14 was a joyful participant in Patrick Corbin's visit to the OFA Dance Program. Here's her recap of Corbin's master class at the Harvard Dance Center.Patrick Corbin, director of CorbinDances and former principal dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, is a visceral choreographer and vigorous teacher. He defines joy through movement, and uses his dancers to delineate human relationships. On April 19, I had the opportunity to take Corbin’s master class at the Harvard Dance Center. In this class, he presented an eclectic movement vocabulary, allowing us to touch the legacy of Paul Taylor while exploring a new dance methodology and practice.He began the class with a warm-up created by Taylor. The Taylor technique heavily emphasizes the back and torso spiral. Taylor dancers dance with a rounded and effortless quality that is very particular to this type of training. Corbin presented the true Taylor exercises in their original form, which was a pleasant surprise, as many teachers today have strayed away from codified dance techniques.

This is not to say that Corbin did not present anything of his own; the longer choreographic phrase that he taught us characterized the particularity and innovation that define his choreography. The phrase, taken from a larger piece he is currently choreographing for CorbinDances, aims to explore the importance of human contact by negating it. Presented as a solo, the movements depict a person who does not want to be touched. Corbin uses a combination of pedestrian and technical movements, in collaboration with his dancers--he even got some input from a student taking the master class. In doing so, he epitomizes the blending of 20th century modern and 21st century contemporary dance.

[Caption: Patrick Corbin in his master class with Harvard students at the Dance Center, April 2012. Photo: Teresa Lattanzio]

[Caption: The author, Jun Shephard '14, participated in Corbin's master class. ]