Advancing the Ave

There’s some work happening over here at Dance Exchange that’s kept a low profile for a while as partnerships were being formed and programming was solidifying, but it’s about to surface in really exciting ways.

When I rejoined the DX team just three weeks ago (I met DX last July at the Summer Institute, and did a work-study with the company in January, see posts about these experiences here and here), I was sort of plopped into the middle of this project. It took me a couple weeks to catch up to the momentum that was starting to build, but, without further ado…

Allow me to present, Advancing the Ave.

The Cast:

The Dance Exchange Team
City of Takoma Park Housing and Community Development
A Generous “Our Town” Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
New Hampshire Avenue Residents and Community Members
The Movers and Shakers of the 2014 Teen Leadership Institute
David Schulman and Other Local Musicians
Various Visual Artists of local and national stature


The Scene:

A 2-mile stretch of New Hampshire Avenue between Eastern Avenue and University Avenue in Takoma Park, MD. Dance Exchange will be moving and making with community members in residential areas, in businesses, in places of worship, on sidewalks, in fields, and more.


The Premise:

As per usual at Dance Exchange, we’re starting with more questions than answers: What brings us to this place? What keeps us here? What traditions do we carry on? Which do we leave behind? How do these diverse experiences and journeys to the New Ave corridor shape the community today? Personally, I’d like to add to this list: Where do growth and change come from? Who is responsible for a space? For a community? What is the role of creative community agency in urban development?


The Plot:

Advancing the Ave is a partnership between Dance Exchange, the City of Takoma Park’s Housing and Community Development Office, and many other collaborators involved in The New Ave initiative (find out more about The New Ave here). Driven by city leaders, The New Ave is a ten-year plan to strengthen New Hampshire Avenue’s identity as a lively, community-oriented space. As a part of this collaboration, DX’s Advancing the Ave seeks to recognize and honor the diverse voices, stories and needs of all those who live and work along New Hampshire Ave.

Dance Exchange will be digging into its tried-and-true and ever-growing toolbox to create workshops and community events which encourage participants and facilitators alike to engage in movement, story-sharing, and dialogue. We kicked off this programming publicly in January with a workshop facilitated by our 2014 Winter Institute participants, and we’re looking forward to engaging our 2014 Teen Leadership Institute participants in this work as well. Together, we’ll work towards a larger community gathering and performance in September that will include a performance of Liz Lerman’s work Still Crossing. This larger goal of this community celebration is to surface an understanding of the past, a celebration of the present, and a collective vision for the future along New Hampshire Ave.


The Twist:

We want YOU! If you live, work, drive, worship, shop, or socialize along New Hampshire Avenue, we’re counting you as part of this community and part of the Advancing the Ave work! We welcome your voice into the conversation about what the Avenue is, was, and could be. Dance Exchange is inviting you to join us for one of our Advancing the Ave workshops which you can learn more about here. Throughout the rest of the summer and fall, we’ll be hosting workshops, community events, and a larger festival, so keep your eyes on the Advancing the Ave page and on the DX Facebook for updates!

If you have any questions or would like to know more about this work, please contact Dance Exchange Fellow Amanda Newman at

About Amanda Newman

A graduate of the University of Utah Department of Modern Dance, Amanda joined Dance Exchange in 2014 as Resident Artist, Communications Coordinator, and Youth Programs Facilitator.