The Art of Listening:
Intuition & Improvisation in Choreography

By Darla Johnson

TSTC Publishing (publication date April 21, 2012)
Available on

A Review

The text of The Art of Listening makes it clear that to create a dance one listens to oneself, and the book gives good recipes for doing so, always the necessary first step in making dance. However, the language of the book is focused toward young teenagers, those in high school, perhaps freshmen in college. This is a good primer.

All of these recipes focus on the accomplishment and satisfaction of creating rather than on the legibility of the created work. My view is that all arts are communication. Hence, if a dance does not resonate in the viewer sensorium, it is not art, not dance—it’s just wiggling or wallowing in ones private environs. One cannot take communication for granted. To be heard the voice must be audible, to be felt the motion must “escape the skin.” Young dancers need to learn how to “let it out”; they need to know that this is what they are creating the dance for.

In the hands of a sentient teacher who can discern and weed out indulgence, the projects proposed here could certainly produce dance. In the hands of a wise teacher who can direct the work of the student toward performance, this book may be a good adjunct to the making of dance.

—Ruth Grauert, April 12, 2012