Into the institute we go…

This week we welcomed back an artist whom we met earlier this year at our Summer Institute: Amanda Newman. Amanda is spending this week with us as a Work/Study for our Winter Institute, and will be sharing her reflections and experiences through some blogs, while helping us with some of the knitty-gritty (as you’ll read!). We’re so delighted to have her in the midst of this institute; her compassion for others and the stories they share is almost palpable, her insight and perspective is truly something, and her commitment to this work and the work she’s doing back home in Utah is, for me personally, so inspiring. And we’re so lucky that she’ll be back with us for a longer period of time this summer, where we’ll do a more formal introduction through the blog and you’ll get to know a lot more about her! Until then, enjoy some of these sneak peaks into the process of preparing for and living in this, the first ever annual Dance Exchange Winter Institute!
~Matthew Cumbie, Resident Artist


Amanda Newman performing in the work made during the Summer Institute. Photo by Brianne Bland.

It’s never just one thing…

These words became a central theme in the work of the 2013 Summer Institute, and I’m happy to be living in their reality by returning to this place which became dear to me during my time here in June. In the heat of the DC summer, I danced with the DX artists along the Anacostia River, in the DX studios, and onstage at the American Dance Institute. I fell in love with the collaboration, exploration, compassion, and courage I found in these studios and in these people. I flew home to begin my final year at the University of Utah, already dreaming up a way to return.

Now, I’m back for Round Two. Dance Exchange has welcomed me into the mix during what has proven to be a very full week of scheming and dreaming and making it happen. Soon after my train skidded into an icy Union Station on January 3, I got swept up in a whirlwind of activity that I’ve come to expect from this team of movers and shakers.

And I’ve been reminded again that, at Dance Exchange, it’s never just one thing….

It’s viewing Cassie Meador’s new work, “From the Desk of Rachel Carson.” This work hit close to home as it not only drew on material explored during our 2013 Summer Institute, but also positioned itself in the sights and scents of my home in the West: ‘Sage…desert sage.’

It’s never just one thing…It’s whirling and twirling in the studio with the Youth Exchange—a rambunctious group with bodies and imaginations ready to roar. Then it’s throwing challenge after challenge at the dancers in the Teen Exchange and watching them stretch their limits and build together.

It’s never just one thing…It’s stepping back into the welcoming space that is Takoma Park MOVES. It’s meeting the more recent additions to the Dance Exchange team, Susan Goode and Sarah Case. It’s laying marley through a lengthy process that involved unimaginable dust, downward dogs, and life metaphors courtesy of Ouida Maedel.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for, we’ve officially begun the 2014 Winter Institute! Local and international participants have convened in the DX space to learn more about the work Dance Exchange is doing in the local community and to soak up new tools and processes with which we might feed our own work. It should come as no surprise that this, too, promises to be a multidimensional experience for all parties involved. It’s a bit like stepping into a House of Mirrors in that the Dance Exchange team is exposing its process by facilitating experiences of experiencing facilitation. It’s all very meta.

Stay tuned for more blogging throughout the weekend about the work we’re doing in-house as well as out in the community with the youth of Identity and the residents at Arcola Towers!

About Guest Blogger

Dance Exchange intern and/or guest blogger.