Home Is Where the Heart Is

Keep the home fires burning.

A home away from home.

There’s no place like home.

This week at Dance Exchange, the concept of home has…well, hit close to home. There have been many ins and outs in this week, with Dance Exchange artists traveling away from our home on Maple Avenue for many reasons. Those of us who remain in the office are left with the responsibility of holding down the fort…holding a space for our Dance Exchange family members to return to when they come home.

In the quiet of the office this week, my attention is drawn to the objects, the keepsakes, the heirlooms that make our Dance Exchange space feel like home. These are the things that speak of where this company has been, what we carry with us, and all that we are moving toward.

For those of you who have, at any point, called this space “home,” I invite you to join me for a short walk down memory lane. For those of you new to our community or for those of you who have never set foot in our space, here’s a small introduction to our unique space and the stories it holds….

The Wall Calendar

What’s so special about multi-colored Post-It Notes and Sharpies, you ask? Everything. This is where the magic happens, people. This calendar holds everything we know we’re doing, everything we’ve penciled in, and some of the things we hope to get done in the next YEAR. This includes Dance Exchange’s in-house programming and events, local engagements, national residencies, and even some international work. During any given week, you’ll find teams of DX artists and staff huddled around this calendar, trying to figure out the who, what, and how of the work we’re doing in the world. Those blank days you see in the lower rows? Prime real estate. It’ll go quickly! Even if you can’t come check out the wall calendar yourself, you too can see what’s coming up on the Dance Exchange online event calendar.

The Chairs

Anyone who’s spent time in our lobby has probably sat in one of many unassuming but oh-so-historic wooden chairs that live in that space. Along with making our class-goers and renters feel at home, these chairs hold the blood, sweat, and tears of a great many Dance Exchange works. We’ve found over the years that the image of a chair speaks to the concept of place in significant and limitless ways: a place in the world, a place in the conversation, a place to call home, a place at the table. Chairs have appeared in many Dance Exchange works including Liz Lerman’s Small Dances About Big Ideas and Man/Chair Dances, Martha Wittman’s Imprints on the Landscape: The Mining Project, Cassie Meador’s How to Lose a Mountain and From the Desk of Rachel Carson….just to name a few. To see how Dance Exchange and its Takoma Park neighbors are using chairs this year, read more about New Hampshire Ave: This Is a Place To… .


The Plants

Our office is filled with green things. Susan and Cassie do a great job taking care of the green things that are alive (pictured here on the right), and the rest of us do a great job of taking care of the things that pretend to be (pictured here on the left….that is, indeed, a knitted cactus. I know. It’s a mystery.). Either way, our green things have a way of connecting us back to the work we’re doing surrounding our relationship to our changing environment. For more about our commitment to place-based, embodied environmental education, check out our Moving Field Guide.

The Uneven Bars

No. This is not a gymnastics event. At Dance Exchange, the bars are just uneven. I could offer any number of excuses (we like it better that way, our handyman forgot his level, we believe in non-linear pursuits of beauty and precision, etc. etc.), but the truth is, no one really knows why they’re uneven. While these bars might not provide the most dependable form of support and stability, we CAN always count on them for sparking conversation during an introduction to Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process. As we walk participants through the steps of making observations, forming questions, and giving feedback, someone’s attention inevitably falls on the wandering line of the bars. Neutral Question: What informed the decision to align the bars in such a way? Answer: We haven’t got a clue.



The Candy Drawer

I will not tell you where, but I will tell you that this drawer exists. It is a place of discovery, place of joy, and a place of comfort. Nothing quite describes the feeling of delight when, upon opening the drawer, you find a WHOLE NEW SELECTION OF CHOCOLATE. The candy drawer is always there…. to lend a helping hand as a grant deadline is fast approaching or to offer an encouraging pick-me-up when Four-ography hits (the wall of exhaustion and delirium which closes in on dancers in the studio around the four o’clock hour). A Dance Exchange staple, indeed.




I could go on, but it would take far too many blog posts to reveal each of the small pieces that make this place feel like home. And, if you asked each DX artist, past and present, why they called or continue to call Dance Exchange “home,” they’d give you a million different answers. But at the core of each is the feeling we all share…home is where the heart is.

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.