It’s back: Friday CLASS Sampler Series!

Happy April! It’s no joke- it’s time for one of my favorite series in our Dance Exchange Friday CLASS: our Sampler Series! Each week will see a different artist in our mix, sharing their practices and offering some of their tools and ways of moving and making. Each week will share some similarities, as well as something completely different. I am so excited about this incredible line-up, and about the range of information that we will be covering! Make sure to check the calendar as to who is facilitating and when, and join us in the studio!

Sharon Mansur. Photo by Zachary Z. Handler

Friday CLASS w/ Sharon Mansur: April 3
Sharon Mansur is an interdisciplinary dance artist and lover of motion, with an ongoing attraction towards experimental, collaborative and interdisciplinary processes including site-specific, durational and installation situations.  She enjoys the chemistry between spontaneous and set, visual and visceral, as well as subtle layers of presence, identity, and memory.  Her multi-sensory performance environments have been experienced in theaters, galleries, parks, plazas, parking lots, street corners, gardens, cafés, apartments, train stations, empty storefronts, fields, and rivers throughout the U.S., as well as in the UK, Argentina, Ireland, and Mexico.  Sharon is a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA), and is currently is on the Dance faculty in the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland teaching improvisation, somatics, creative process, and choreographic research.

Class Description: Sharon will be facilitating a somatics-based contemporary dance class, drawing primarily from Bartenieff Fundamentals(sm), a gentle series of floor-oriented movement sequences developed by dancer, physical therapist, and dance therapy pioneer Irmgard Bartenieff.  BF is a body re-education approach embodying developmental principles and Laban Movement Analysis, a comprehensive system created by Rudolph Laban, who was also a key figure in the development of 20th century European modern dance.  BF focuses on movement integration and harmony, encourages ease of motion, efficiency, anatomic clarity, and wholistic functional and expressive movement experiences.

Friday CLASS w/ Ashley Thorndike-Youssef + live music w/ David Schulman: April 10

Ashley Thorndike-Youssef

Ashley Thorndike-Youssef is the founder and executive director of Now Next Dance. She holds a PhD in dance studies from the Ohio State University, a Masters degree in educational counseling from the University of Virginia, and a BFA in modern dance from the University of Utah. She has worked in the dance departments of Ohio State University, Oberlin College, George Washington University, and George Mason University. Ashley has performed and created with Striding Lion Performance Group, Annie Kloppenberg & Co, Meghan Durham/MERGE, and Ashley Thorndike/Peter Swendsen. Ashley is also a BASI-certified Pilates instructor with a specialization in dance training, and a registered yoga teacher.


Class Description: Ashley’s class incorporates the Now Next Dance touchstones of Action, Support, Curiosity, Challenge, and Resilience, with a class that begins with a functional warm-up, progresses through movement exploration and spatial and temporal articulation, and concludes with phrase work. Toggling between set and improvised pathways, Ashley’s class is designed to serve as a foundation for each dancer’s personal expression with a healthy respect for contemporary dance foundations. Ashley is currently considering recreating an old work coldness & lightness (to see an excerpt, click here;  to see the full piece, click here), and will play with the material from this piece in Friday CLASS.

Friday CLASS w/ Meghan Bowden + live music w/ Mark H. Rooney: April 17

Meghan Bowden. Photo by Paul Smith.

Meghan Bowden is a dancer and teacher based in the arts district neighborhood of Mount Rainier, MD, currently performing as company member with Taurus Broadhurst Dance and select projects with Gesel Mason Projects. Her performance credits also include company member and adjunct artist with David Dorfman Dance and Dance Exchange (formerly Liz Lerman Dance Exchange), where she is currently an adjunct artist and contributor to community engagement art-making events. She was also a member of Brooklyn-based Urban Bush Women during their Dance Motion tour of South America in 2010, sponsored by the U.S. State Department in collaboration with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Meghan has a BFA from the University of the Arts in Modern Dance/Ghanaian Traditional Dances and a minor in Strategic Advertising, and is currently in the MFA in Dance program at the University of Maryland-College Park.

Melanie George

Friday CLASS w/ Melanie George: April 24
Melanie George is the Dance Program Director at American University. She holds a BA in dance from Western Michigan University, an MA in dance and Graduate Certificate in Secondary Teaching from American University, and is a Certified Movement Analyst. Melanie has presented her research on jazz dance improvisation/pedagogy throughout the U.S., Canada and Scotland. Recent publications include “Jazz Dance, Pop Culture, and the Music Video Era”for Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches (University Press of Florida). Recent choreography commissions include works for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Kent State University, the Community College of Baltimore County, and the Gaylord National Christmas on the Potomac Launch Event. Melanie serves on the board of Dance Metro DC, formerly on the board of the National Dance Education Organization, and committees for VelocityDC Dance Festival and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Melanie is the co-founder of the Washington DC-based Jazz Is… Dance Project.

Class Description: This class focuses on identifying the elements of jazz dance styles to develop a more versatile and expressive jazz dancer. Movement phrases incorporate Laban Movement Analysis and jazz music, with an emphasis on improvisation for a wider variety of movement textures and performance qualities.

About Matthew Cumbie

Matthew Cumbie (Associate Artistic Director) is a dance artist and collaborator who currently lives in Washington, DC.