As we close out 2012, we’re excited to announce a great December series for FRIDAY CLASS, featuring Amara Tabor-Smith/Sherwood Chen on December 7th, Graham Brown on December 14th, and a holiday-themed partnering class with Matthew Cumbie and Sarah Levitt on December 21st. Read on for class descriptions for each series, and stay tuned for the FRIDAY CLASS schedule in 2013! Class is from 9:30-11:15am and costs $12, or $10 with a class card

December 7: Amara Tabor-Smith and Sherwood Chen

Amara and Sherwood have been in residence at DX all week as part of our Green Choreographer Initiative. 

Class description: “Falling Together”; Roots Modern/Body Weather mix experience. This mix level class co taught by Amara Tabor-Smith and Sherwood Chen, blends their respective backgrounds in African diaspora movement traditions (Capoeira, Afro Brazilian and Cuban Orisha dance) and Body Weather training, applying modern contemporary technique, choreographic phrases and improvisation. In this class students will be exposed to a variety of movement traditions and techniques as well as be encouraged to celebrate their own movement identity in this experience. Be prepared for a rigorous and challenging movement experience.

Sherwood Chen has worked as a performer with artists including Anna Halprin, Min Tanaka, Ko Murobushi, Marina Abramovic, Grisha Coleman/echo::systems, Sara Shelton Mann and Do Hee Lee. In 2009, he formed dance collaborative Headmistress with choreographer Amara Tabor-Smith performing at Movement Research at Judson Church and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He has been a contributing performer to Shinichi Iova-Koga’s inkBoat since 2005. Sherwood has worked with Body Weather Laboratory training, initiated by Tanaka, since 1993, and was a resident member of Tanaka’s international performance collective Mai Juku in rural Japan. He has facilitated Body Weather Laboratory and danced with Oguri and Roxanne Steinberg in Los Angeles, and continues leading Body Weather training in the San Francisco Bay Area and abroad. He has created solo, collaborative and group dances at venues including Theatre de L’Échangeur, PS122, Thread Waxing Space, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, Japan America Theatre and San Francisco Art Institute. He has been an artist in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts with Headmistress, Cap Quinze in Marseille, Cultural Exchange Station in Tábor (CESTA), and forthcoming at Point Éphémère, Sherwood was Associate Director of Alliance for California Traditional Arts and serves as board member for Intersection for the Arts (San Francisco) and Khmer Arts Academy (Phnom Penh/Long Beach).

Amara Tabor-Smith

Amara Tabor-Smith: San Francisco born, Oakland based. She began her career in the Bay Area as a member of The Ed Mock Dance Company and has worked with other choreographers and companies such as Anne Bluethenthal, Priscilla Regalado, Pearl Ubungen, Jacinta Vlach/Liberation Dance Theater, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Ase Dance Theater Collective and Joanna Haigood/ Zaccho Dance Theater. Amara is the former Associate Artistic Director and dancer with The Urban Bush Women Dance Company of New York City (1996-2006). Her background in theater includes work with artists such as, Anna Deveare Smith, Herbert Siquenza, The SF Mime Troupe, Make A Circus Aya de Leon and Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Amara Choreographed Shakti Butler’s documentary film, “Making Whiteness Visible” in which she also appears as a dancer. She has taught at Naropa University in Boulder, CO., University of Omaha, NE., Columbia College in Chicago, The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM , Berkeley High School and is currently a Lecturer at UC Berkeley in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.


December 14: Graham Brown

Class description: I aim to engender awareness, empowerment, individuality, honesty, risk taking, and technical prowess. I am interested in the use of the voice, improvisation, rhythmic specificity and powering through the space with momentum and ease.

Graham Brown

Graham Brown (BFA, University of Utah; MFA candidate, University of Maryland, College Park) will premier his new evening-length dance theatre work Apple Falling in March 2013 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, which builds on his recent works You, evening length; The Better Half, mixed-ability work commissioned by the Dance Exchange; and as far as I know, solo/monologue presented at Queen’s College and the Choreographers showcase. Graham currently performs with PEARSONWIDRIG DANCETHEATER and has freelanced with such choreographers as Nicholas Leichter Dance (NYC), Tzveta Kassabova (MD), Cie. Wili Dorner (Vienna, Austria), and others. Graham spent the 2000’s in Salt Lake City, UT where he was the founder and co-director of Movement Forum (MoFo), a dance improvisation performance company. He has taught domestically and internationally at universities and dance festivals in both faculty and guest capacities. Graham is sustained by his three children, Isobella Oliver, and Elliette, and dear wife, Lehua. More info at

December 21: Matthew Cumbie/Sarah Levitt

Sarah and Matthew: holiday style.

Join Matthew and Sarah for this holiday-themed partnering class to close out our 2012 FRIDAY CLASS series. Be prepared to dance to holiday music from Resident Musician David Schulman, as well as Mariah Carey’s finest holiday jams. Class will cover principles of weight sharing through solo and group explorations, and culminate in learning a duet. We hope you’ll join us for this fun and informative workshop/class!

Matthew Cumbie is a professional dance artist currently based out of Washington, D.C. Hailing from Houston, Texas, Matthew began exploring movement at a young age in improvised backyard performances with his cousin and brothers, eventually harnessing these experiences to further deepen his understanding of movement as an art form by studying dance in college. He holds undergraduate degrees in Communication Studies and Dance from Texas Lutheran University and Texas State University-San Marcos, respectively, and an MFA in dance from Texas Woman’s University. He has been recognized nationally for his work in the classroom and on stage through awards and opportunities and has been able to work with many excellent artists, including Jill Sigman/thinkdance, Mark Dendy, Christian von Howard, Sarah Gamblin, Jordan Fuchs, jhon stronks, and Keith Thompson/dancetactics performance group. His own improvisational collaborative projects with Amanda Jackson and Nicole Touzien have been performed in Texas, New Mexico, Brooklyn, and at Harvard University. Matthew started working with the Dance Exchange in 2011 and became a full-time artist in 2012.

Sarah Levitt is a dancer, choreographer and teacher based in Maryland, and Resident Artist/Communications Coordinator at Dance Exchange. She received her early dance training from Gene Kelly via VHS, Barton & Williams School of Dance, and Ilona Kessell. These formative experiences helped her to earn a Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship in Dance from the University of Maryland, where she received a BA in Dance, and was honored with a Dorothy Madden Emerging Artist Award upon graduation. Since then, Sarah has danced professionally in the work of Robert Battle, Liz Lerman, Gesel Mason, Cassie Meador, PearsonWidrig DanceTheater, and Keith Thompson. She began working with the Dance Exchange in 2007, and became a full-time artist in 2010. She has enjoyed performing, teaching, and creating dances with Dance Exchange artists in universities, hospitals, senior centers, on stages, and outdoors in the US and abroad. Highlights include teaching residencies at the Kohler Arts Center, Harvard University and St. Elizabeths Hospital, and premiering and touring Liz Lerman’s The Matter of Origins. In 2009 and 2010, she received Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council in Solo Performance and Choreography, and in 2011, with collaborator Benjamin Wegman, received a Local Dance Commissioning Project award from the Kennedy Center for Hammock, which premiered at the Kennedy Center in September 2011. She and Ben share a 2012 Metro DC Dance Award for “Emerging Choreographer” for Hammock. 


About Sarah Levitt

Sarah Levitt (Resident Artist/Communications Coordinator) is a dancer, choreographer and teacher based in Maryland.