Editors note: Corina Dalzell was Dance Exchange’s intern for six weeks in January and February. She closes out her time here with her learnings and reflections from her weeks in the office, in the studio, and out in DC with the company. You can read her other blog posts here and here and here and here. –S.L.
Reasons why I am grateful for Dance Exchange:
1) Every staff member is warm and welcoming
It took me but a moment to feel at home in the large communal office upstairs, and in the rehearsal studio below. I always felt appreciated and respected. As an undergraduate intern, this means a lot.
2) They flex with the rhythm of life
People have needs. They need to walk their dogs at lunch, they need to stretch at their desk, they need to eat during the meeting. Rather than ask people to adapt their life to suit their profession, they adapt work to flow with employee lives.
Link, Lola, and Lathe. Oh my goodness. Every time I get to hold Brian Buck’s (our facilities manager) daughter, I get so excited that I always go home and tell someone about how wonderful it was. If you ever feel the least bit stressed, you can turn a corner and see a baby. Looking into their eyes puts things into a different perspective.
Hazel and Lucas. There is no non-human discrimination around here, no sir.
5) They make art for the sake of interaction.
The artistic work made here is all about relationships. They examine the relationships of people and their health, people and their history, people and their differences. Then there are those relationships that go beyond people to the realm of ideas. The work examines the relationships of art and science, tradition and freedom, dance and communication, facts and representation, abstraction and research. My fascination with the arts lies here. Along with sophisticated form, I am enthralled when dance illustrates a new concept or relationship I had yet to consider or viscerally understand. I love art that gets citizens to interact and ask questions of themselves. I love what they do here.
6) Always open to new relationships
There is no relationship to disparate for Dance Exchange to explore, no mover they will not include.
7) Embracing change
The only constant is taken with complete stride here. I suppose it goes back to the flexibility of number 2. This is not an entrenched or dated organization in any way. They are a living and growing manifestation of the times, staying relevant and lively.
8 ) Offering opportunity
Dance Exchange goes where ever it can to engage people in their creative process. Their classes occur in schools, centers, retirement homes, and in their very own studios. These classes engage, encourage, challenge, and uplift.
9) Inspiring Inquiry
The mission of Dance Exchange is to create dances that arise from asking: Who gets to dance? Where is the dance happening? What is it about? Why does it matter?
As a student at Bennington College, a school that has no majors, we are required to articulate in writing what we are going to study and why. This is labeled the Plan Process. Rather then say “I am going to study Dance” we identify our interests as a line of inquiry. This paradigm is referred to as a practice of the new liberal arts. If I articulate my plan as “the study of people moving in response to their environment”, then I have the whole scope of the college at my disposal. I can take photography to understand how we perceive landscapes visually. I can take dance improvisation to understand how momentary group decisions form. I can take a course in African politics to see how people organize around collective issues like the environment. No perspective is irrelevant if you are asking the question in earnest.
Much like the DX mission statement, my degree is a list of questions. I appreciate that even as I leave the student world of questioning and learning, my career can also be in asking rich questions.
10) I feel affirmed and inspired; ready for life
I have first hand knowledge that other people are asking the same questions I ask, and they are pursing them professionally in large and small ways. There is support for this work. Collaborators are abundant. I am ready to dive in.