New Hampshire Ave Project Kicks Off…In The Rain!

After the kick off event for our new project, New Hampshire Avenue: This Is a Place To…, we here at Dance Exchange have a new appreciation for the old adage “When it rains, it pours.”

Photo by Ben Carver

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On the morning of September 13, the final preparations were underway for the official launch of this year-long project which brings Dance Exchange into collaboration with those who live and work along New Hampshire Avenue to celebrate what the avenue is, was, and could be. Artwork was being installed. Catered food was being set. Musicians were tuning their instruments, and dancers were warming up their bodies. Volunteers were gearing up, and guests were arriving.

Photo by Ben Carver

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No amount of preparation, however, could keep the weather at bay. At T-30 minutes, the rainclouds, which had been breathing down our necks all morning, let loose. All of our carefully laid plans were quickly becoming soaked.

Photo by Ben Carver

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But as the rain poured forth, so did generosity, flexibility, and good humor.

Dance Exchange, its community partners, and New Hampshire Avenue residents alike pitched in with speed, grace, hard work, and laughter to relocate and reshape this community festival.

Photo by Ben Carver

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At the end of the day, the plan had shifted significantly, but in spite of the rain (or, perhaps, because of the rain), the spirit of collaboration, appreciation, and celebration was palpable.

Photo by Ben Carver

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As residents enjoyed food from Local New Hampshire Avenue restaurants Tiffin, Sardi’s, and Nuralis Bakery, many commented on the delight of finding food native to their personal and family cultures.

Photo by Ben Carver

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Youth and adults alike got their creative juices flowing by creating paintings inspired by the vibrancy of New Hampshire Avenue with visual artist Fetunwork Amedie.

Photo by Ben Carver

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And the rain didn’t stop anyone from moving and making with Dance Exchange artists Matthew Cumbie and Amanda Newman!

Photo by Ben Carver

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Members of the Takoma Park community were asked to share their hopes for New Hampshire Avenue with local artist Nicole Salimbene.

Photo by Ben Carver

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Friends, family, and neighbors had portraits taken by local photographer Eli Koppel.

Photo by Eli Koppel

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All the while, musicians David Schulman and Don Tillery with the help of DX adjuncts Christine King and Andy Torres collaborated with unlikely musicians and vocal artists in the crowd to create a rich, joyous soundscape for the event.

Photo by Ben Carver

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In the end, it’s only fitting that the kick-off event for New Hampshire Ave: This Is a Place To… was in a constant state of discovery and evolution. This is a project which has been and will continue to be shaped by the people and places of New Hampshire Ave. The DX team is incredibly excited by the new connections, questions, and possibilities which emerged from September 13’s kick off event, and we hope you are too!

Stay in the know about New Hampshire Ave: This Is a Place To… and get involved in upcoming workshops, events, and performances by visiting the project’s page and by reading more about the inside experience of moving and making along New Hampshire Ave.

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.