FRIDAY Class in February

This February, despite the cool temperatures outside, is sure to be hot at Dance Exchange. Why, you ask? Because we have a fantastic facilitation tag-team lined up: Keira Hart-Mendoza and Sarah Oppenheim! These incredible artists will be alternating Fridays in our FRIDAY Class series, bringing their own approach to moving and making and offering a number of entry points for a diverse range of movers. Check out the information for each artist below, and note when they’ll be in the studio! Also, know that our fabulous musician-in-residence David Schulman will be accompanying Sarah’s class on Feb. 14 and Keira’s class on Feb. 21!


FRIDAY Class w/ Keira Hart-Mendoza: February 7 & 21
Keira is no stranger to the DC dance community. A prolific dance artist whose work ranges from directing her own company to facilitating art making and doing in local hospitals to collaborating with other artists in the area, Keira is also a guest-artist-in-residence at Dance Exchange this season! She teaches a lovely class that invites movers from many backgrounds to explore and expand their movement patterns and choices, and does it all with such grace and warmth that I can’t help but want to spend the rest of my day smiling and in her presence. Keira will be facilitating twice during the month of February, so don’t miss out.

Keira Hart Mendoza

Keira Hart-Mendoza is often found wearing more than one dance hat at any given moment.  She is the artistic director and choreographer for the DC based dance company UpRooted Dance.   She is often found performing and creating work in and around Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia.  Keira’s choreography and video work has been shown nationally and internationally in Arizona, Washington, North Carolina, across the state of Virginia, the DC-Metro Area, and in Mexico.

Working interdisciplinary and collaborating with artists in all fields is an essential aspect of Keira’s work.  She has worked with musicians, filmmakers, engineers, actors, motion capture technology, and fashion designers.  Keira herself jumps in and out of roles such as costume designer, set designer, and video artist.  She also won “Best Student Work” for her video piece entitled “Seeing is…” at the American Dance Festival’s Dance for the Camera Film and Video Festival 2005.

In the DC Metro Area, Keira has presented work at Dance Place, Joy of Motion Dance Center, Sylvia Greenberg Theater, Sydney Harman Center for the Arts, Reston Town Center, the store front windows at Miss Pixie’s Furnishings and Whatnot…, L2 Lounge in Georgetown, The Capital Skyline Hotel Pool, and Sidebar in Silver Spring.  Her goal is to show work both in the theater setting and in other unique and unlikely settings in and around town.

During her dance training Keira has had the opportunity to attend numerous dance and film festivals in the US and abroad.  Keira has been a guest artist at James Madison University, University of Virginia, Coppin State University in Baltimore, and at Arizona State University. She also performs with Daniel Burkholder/The Playground.

Class Description: Keira’s classes at the Dance Exchange will gather dancers together through structured movement exercises in conjunction with live music by violinist David Schulman and taiko drummer Mark H. Rooney.  This phrase work will explore integrated movement throughout the entire body while trying to find a deeper connection to the music being played simultaneously.  Dancers will also work together in pairs, trios and in large ensembles through group structured improvisations.  These improvisations will allow dancers to exercise personal movement choices, while connecting more personally to others in the class.

FRIDAY Class w/ Sarah Oppenheim: February 14 & 28
Sarah is one of those movers that I literally cannot stop watching. In class, on stage, in the hallway. Ok, that might be a bit creepy. But really. She has such range and expressiveness, and seems to eat space. She moves with abandon and clarity and I’m so delighted that she’s bringing that into our FRIDAY Class. It’s been a moment since she last taught; in fact, since before I started full-time with Dance Exchange. I’ve heard wonderful things, though. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming her back to the helm, as I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us.

Sarah Beth Oppenheim

Sarah Beth Oppenheim hails from the Wild, Wild West where she had trouble cutting on the dotted black line, so she read Steinbeck and became a modern dancer instead. She graduated from SUNY Purchase where she became a founding member of Nelly van Bommel’s noa dance and started a long-term affair with sociology and its potential for another career. She founded her first avant-garde dance collective in Berlin and has created works for storage closets, balconies, living rooms, graveyards, bookstore aisles, burrito joints, and kitchen window sills with a good view of a crescent moon ever since. Upon returning to New York, Oppenheim started teaching, directing plays, choreographing musicals, planning weddings, and cleaning house for a stripper who tipped very well. She is a 2009 Brooklyn Arts Council Regrant Recipient for her Brooklyn production Hold This Deep for Safe. She danced on Sam Bassett and Noah Baumbach film sets until she heard Virginia is for Lovers, and her relocation there has introduced her to the amazing DC Dance community in projects by Tzveta Kassabova, Christine Stone-Martin, and Stephanie Miracle. Oppenheim just opened a dance studio in Northern Virginia called Greater Washington Dance Center – the metropolitan area’s newest pre-professional studio that has a schedule and curriculum to ensure healthy training, career longevity, artistic boundary-breaking — and all with an eye toward homework hours and family time. She currently teaches at Montgomery College, and she has founded a Northern Virginia Outreach program that brings modern dance and choreographic tools to at-risk youth. Her latest project is site-specific work and performance art curriculum with tweens, teens, and university students via the Vein Cave Project. And her company Heart Stuck Bernie will premiere It’s Not Here, Either this coming April – a site-specific show in the Mayflower Square Apartment Complex of Alexandria, VA.

Class Description: Moving large and eating space comprise the core concepts of this class which starts with a warmup to care for the deep muscles and smooth joints. Oppenheim’s Modern focuses on grounded movement originating from the center and expanding to fingertips and toes with an interconnectedness that encourages dynamic range: balance to off-kilter, brute force to seamless calm. Her classwork stretches the mind and the body as it relies heavily on a skeletal approach unifying and completely integrating technique with artistry. She encourages a willingness to dance and dance – not just see and do. The physically taxing phrases enhearten abandon, speed, and acuity as much as they allow for thoughtful choices and technical prowess. The class explores quirky, luscious movement with a tender, stark quality. You’ll open up your dancing vena cava and send its blood straight to the dancing source. Oh, and laugh at life’s hijinks, too.

About Matthew Cumbie

Matthew Cumbie (Associate Artistic Director) is a dance artist and collaborator who currently lives in Washington, DC.