11/20 @ DX: Dance (and Theatre) Matters!

Last Thursday was the official kick off of the 2014-2015 HOME Series at Dance Exchange. This series creates connections between the DX company, our local community and beyond by providing behind-the-scenes access to our projects and process.

With Cassie, Ouida, and Matthew having just returned from their time collaborating with Dallas Faces Race at Race Forward’s 2014 Facing Race National Conference, the Dance Exchange community was eager to hear about their experiences, discoveries, and connections. While the team was also excited to look back and share out, we were even more excited by the ways in which we could use the HOME event to connect to the work being done locally…We wanted to know: What role is the arts and culture sector of the D.C. area playing in advancing racial equity?

To answer this question, Dance Exchange invited our friends at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company to share the work they are doing surrounding issues of race and racial equity in theatre. Though show doesn’t premeire until the spring, Woolly was able to give us a sneak peak of Lights Rise on Grace by Chad Beckim, “a hot-blooded stage event that has been exposed to its theatrical bones: an examination of race, sexuality, and family as unconventional as the relationships it depicts.”

Also joining the evening was Nilaja Sun, known for her Obie award winning solo work “No Child…” based on her experiences as a teaching artist in the New York City public school system. This year, Nilaja and Woolly Mammoth Theatre are collaborating to find opportunities to build demand for theatre among 18 to 25-year-olds in the African-American community.

To close out the evening, Matthew and Ouida led the group through some of the interview and movement structures that have played an important role in the company’s work around racial equity. We recognize that in these conversations, in these times, it is vitally important for us to continue moving our bodies and our voices through these conversations, even and especially when they are painful, confusing, or disheartening. It is in the gathering, moving, and making that we find solidarity, we find hope, and we find a path forward.

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.