Sammy Spriggs creates a dance class where all bodies have value

Photo credit Cheryl Mann

A dancer stands on one foot, leaning into a deep backbend over one cowboy boot. She is looking towards the audience and lets her arms hang slightly from her shoulders. She is wearing the other cowboy boot on her standing foot, and she is dressed in a teal blue skirt and green and white checked top. Her hair is loose and fans out around her face, indicating the image captures a moment in which she was in motion.

April 1, 2020
Volume 1 Issue 1
by: Robin Wharton

In 2019 and early 2020, Samantha Spriggs, choreographer and dancer, established  a “pay-what-you-will” class on Sunday mornings at Dance Foundry. In compliance with the current social distancing regulations , she is thinking about how to bring her inclusive, accessible, and body-positive modern dance classes online. In nominating Spriggs for this profile, one DanceATL community member wrote that Spriggs “puts breath and freedom into dance” and “allows people of every persuasion, with a love of dance, to learn with her.” Recently,  Spriggs said she has plans to film the floor work section of her adult class and make the content available via Facebook and Instagram. She is also using Google Classroom to teach her creative movement classes.

Spriggs describes her teaching this way: “I do a lot of research and self-education about how best to teach from the mindset that all bodies have value, all bodies can be dancing bodies, and that I can work in collaboration with the movers who come to my class to create their own versions of the sequences and prompts that work best in their bodies.” When she considers how her work fits into the larger ecology of dance in Atlanta, she says that she tries to assemble artists who are also makers, and who can collaborate with her to create dance that represents diverse perspectives. She involves collaborators in a process where they are united around a topic but are also able to challenge one another in their beliefs and opinions. That dynamic exchange of ideas is something Spriggs thinks dance in Atlanta has been doing for a while:

“You see a lot of dance artists here thinking about, discussing and tackling social and environmental justice in various ways. You see a lot of artists taking on research-based projects. You see more and more artists moving here to dance and make dance, and I find that really exciting. Overall I will say that dance here is thoughtful, and inquisitive.”

Photo credit William Frederking

A dancer is in a low position on the floor against a black backdrop on stage. Her right knee is resting on the Marley with her left foot propped up. Her arms are long, extended down and the backs of her fingers making contact with the black floor. She looks straight to the audience with a focused stare barely covered by her front bangs. She is wearing a printed dress with white knee pads and bright red lipstick.

In classes, her process involves building community; she “want[s] people to be challenged . . . and also come away proud of how they’ve moved their bodies.” Rather than focusing on repertory, she grounds her class in technique: “I teach class from the ground up with release technique fundamentals based in developmental movement patterning, standing work that emphasizes efficiency and alignment, and across the floor and phrase material that allows room for artistry and play.” 

If you’re interested in learning from Spriggs, she says she will be creating a hallway series designed for spaces available to those dancing at home. When it is ready, she will make that content available on Instagram and Facebook.