A constant state of shifting and a farewell for now

[Editor’s notes: It has been said before that all good things must come to an end. While I don’t like to think in such finite terms, there is a constant state of shifting that occurs naturally, and one that is particularly poignant when thinking about relationships between people. Or between people and organizations. And so it is that we must admit the following: Jessie Laurita-Spanglet’s internship has been completed. It has been an incredible few months having her on board and helping with a wide range of things. Too many to name. To Jessie- we thank you. But our relationship with her is only shifting! After some summer adventures of her own design (a graduation, a wedding, and a summer teaching at sea!), she’ll be back in the area and moving and teaching in some of our class series. Read over her reflections from being a DX intern, and come back in the fall to hear all about what she’s doing! — M.C.]


Jessie Laurita-Spanglet. Photo by Julia Smith.

I’m grateful for…
A renewed sense of a place, time, and community. During my internship at Dance Exchange this semester I’ve worked to grow and develop Dance Exchange’s Teen Leadership Institute; I’ve participated in Paloma McGregor’s Green Choreographer Research Residency; I’ve written blog posts; I’ve worked on Dance Exchange’s New Hampshire Avenue project; I’ve learned sections of Cassie Meador’s new work From The Desk of Rachel Carson and performed at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital; I’ve participated in two HOME events; I’ve been part of a teacher-training for the Moving Field Guide work that Dance Exchange does, and many more things that are too numerous to name here. It has been a very full internship, and one that has had me swinging back and forth, wearing many different hats from one day to the next depending on the type of work that needed to be done in the moment. I’ve fully enjoyed and immersed myself in all of the events and planning that I’ve been lucky enough to participate in this spring. However, I think what I’m feeling most acutely as I transition into my summer, and what I will miss tremendously as I say goodbye to the role that I’ve played here over the last few months is the atmosphere that swirls around Dance Exchange and draws people here to study and learn and develop and grow.

I’m remembering…
The feeling of energy and curiosity at St Elizabeth’s Hospital right before we began our engagement there. I’m remembering the patients filing into the gymnasium, curious about what they were about to experience, and us warming up our bodies full of anticipation about what the event would bring. I’m remembering the moment of crossing the large gymnasium floor, making eye contact, and reaching my hand out to greet the patients who were there to participate, and the feeling of relief and warmth that physical contact and human connection brings. I remember that as the event progressed, there was a growing sense of interest and participation from the patients that in turn spurred my sense of excitement and confidence in what we were doing. I remember that by the end of our time at St Elizabeth’s, there was one man in particular who had a beautiful sense of movement and space, and who had very enthusiastically shared many movements of his own with the group. I remember the sense of gratification that I had at the end of the event, because I felt that we had come in and created an environment where people felt excited, engaged, and curious, and could leave with a renewed sense of activation in their bodies. And I remember driving home with a smile on my face because I felt that I had been part of sharing what I love with people who might not always have the opportunity to watch and participate in dance in this particular way.

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


I’m carrying forward…
A fresh perspective, and a need to continue doing movement work that takes me out of the studio and into communities and places where dance doesn’t happen often enough. I’m carrying a need to continue dancing and creating movement opportunities for people in hospitals, elderly care facilities, schools, parks, and outdoor and public spaces. I’m taking a fresh perspective on what dance can do, and I’m carrying forward with me a renewed curiosity about how dance can be a unifying force in a community and a conduit for people to communicate, excavate, and express.


What I’m carrying with me is a sense of a community that expands the traditional ideas of what dance can look like, where it can happen, what it can do, and who can do it. I’m taking with me a sense of the possibility that dance can be a unifier, a method of communication, a therapeutic experience, an artistic expression, a community building activity, and a home for many people with many different backgrounds, experiences, and interests.

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.