Dance Lab, is a dance collective and performance research group founded in 2001 by the University of Otago’s Dance Studies programme and housed in the School of Physical Education. While our choreographic lab headquarters are at the University and many key members’ are staff and students of Dance Studies, we are also community based practice.
Dance artists can get involved through the multiple public classes we offer throughout the year. Dance Lab blends academic knowledge with an artistic practice that aims to reach beyond the University to the wider New Zealand society.
The director of Dance Lab is Dr. Ojeya Cruz Banks, who is a dance lecturer, choreographer, dancer and mentor for the group. Artistic and scholarly goals include the creation of choreographic works that embody diverse cultural perspectives of life; and the hosting of master classes and residencies by guest artists. We use a multicultural movement genre that blends contemporary, African diasporic, ballet and yoga movement techniques into a fluid, unique style.
All dance members contribute to movement composition and to the creative concept generation for the choreography. Hence, dance lab is a site of professional development of emerging dance artists and aims to promote high quality dance performances that link social theory to dance practice to choreography.
Dance Lab also seeks to supplement the course work of senior and Masters students of the Dance Studies programme with opportunities to develop stronger practical research skills in studio technique, choreography, teaching and performance.
Dr. Ojeya Cruz Banks is Lecturer of Dance Studies in the School of Physical Education and the director of Dance Lab. She is a dance anthropologist, and has studied dance extensively in Africa and trained in contemporary dance in the USA. Ojeya performed many years with ZUZI Dance Company in Arizona and has worked as a choreographer at several U.S Universities. She was also one of the 12 selected dancers to participate in the Professional Choreographic Lab at the Jacob’s Pillow World Dance School and Festival of 2008.