Home in a creative process

Erin Crawley-Woods and Matthew Cumbie generating material in rehearsal with Jessie. Photo by Jessie Laurita-Spanglet

This spring, I have the honor of being one of the Dance Exchange’s local choreographers in residence, which means that I’ll have the next few months to create a new piece of choreography in the Dance Exchange studios. My residency will culminate on April 17th with a HOME event which will include in an informal showing of my work as well as a Critical Response Process. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to delve into a new creative work in this building where so much amazing creation has taken place. As is often the case when entering into a new creative project, I feel a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and trepidation, as well as hope for a joyful process and an acknowledgement of how lucky I am to spend my days working with the body and the movement arts.

Erin Crawley-Woods and Matthew Cumbie in rehearsal. Photo by Jessie Laurita-Spanglet.

In thinking about my new project I have again and again come back to the idea of home. I believe there are two reasons that home is on my mind, one being personal and the other professional. On a professional note, I recently started an internship here at the Dance Exchange surrounding the New Hampshire Ave Project. This project seeks to rejuvenate and revitalize a stretch of New Hampshire Avenue by engaging in community-based dialogue, workshops, and initiatives to create a more walk-able, and attractive atmosphere for both visitors and residents of New Hampshire Ave. Beginning this project has made me think about the people who live along New Hampshire Ave and what it’s like for them to call New Hampshire Ave their home. One a personal note, I am about to graduate from graduate school, and in transitioning into a new phase of life I’ve been asking myself where I might call home next. All of this has resulted in a few questions: what makes a home feel like home? Is home a person, place, or thing? Is my home a stationary place or is it mobile? And, where does home live in the body, and how is that related to a particular place or space?

As I move forward, I will be taking my questions and thoughts into the studio, and along with my dancers, beginning a process of earnest investigation. My process will involve writing, thinking, moving, talking, listening and generating. The result of all of this time and energy will be an artifact that will depict where my mind and body have been, with the other movers in the room, for the time we were together. I look forward to sharing more thoughts and pictures here as my work progresses.

About Jessie Laurita Spanglet

Jessie is in her third year of the MFA in dance program at the University of Maryland-College Park, and is an intern with Dance Exchange this spring.