Dance Exchange Launches Green Choreographer Initiative



October 15, 2012


Emily Macel Theys
Communications & Development Director
301-270-6700 ext. 13

Sarah Levitt
Resident Artist/Communications Coordinator
301-270-6700 ext. 11

Dance Exchange Launches Green Choreographer Initiative

Announcing Amara Tabor-Smith and Jill Sigman as Green Choreographers-in-Residence

Takoma Park, MD, October 15, 2012—This fall, Dance Exchange launches the Green Choreographer Initiative with the Green Choreographer Research Residency at Dance Exchange. Dance Exchange has selected two guest artists as the inaugural GreenChoreographers-in-Residence: Jill Sigman, Artistic Director of jill sigman/thinkdance in New York City, and Amara Tabor-Smith, Artistic Director of Deep Waters Dance Theater in San Francisco. Tabor-Smith will join Dance Exchange December 3-7, 2012 and Sigman will be in residence January 28-February 1, 2013.

In its post-founder era, Dance Exchange is expanding its role in the field of dance by becoming an incubation site and facilitator of work by multiple artists outside of the company, drawing artists from around the country to share work and research within the DC region. The Green Choreographer Initiative highlights exemplary choreographers with socially engaged artistic practices who address environmental issues in their work,and use art to facilitate a dialogue around these issues that will resonate beyond the dance field.

This incubator series will provide select dance makers the opportunity to share artistic practices and be in conversation with local artists and environmental partners. Each inaugural green choreographer will receive an unrestricted residency award of $5000 to use as they see fit, plus additional in-kind support of $7500 worth of studio space, facilitated feedback sessions with Dance Exchange artists and invited guests, and time with the Dance Exchange resident artists and Artistic Director. These residencies are the first phase of a larger initiative fostering a community of dance makers interested in building cultural capacity to address pressing environmental and social issues. The dialogue and discoveries in year one’s residency program will shape subsequent residencies and programming.

Dance Exchange is taking a leadership role specific to environmentally-related work that encompasses more than just making art about environmental issues. Dance Exchange Artistic Director Cassie Meador has long been a champion of environmental awareness and conservation efforts, and her recent choreographic works address issues of land use and mountaintop removal. Meador’s Moving Field Guides take participants into parks, forests and fields to explore the habitat through the guidance of dancers, historians, and naturalists. Of the program, Meador states, “This initiative establishes Dance Exchange as a place for artists not only to research how the changing environment is shaping our lives, but also as a place to examine their own practices. Jill and Amara both use art to shed light on some of the most important and pressing issues of our time and we hope that they will leave Dance Exchange with a sense that they’ve discovered something new about the usefulness of their work in the world.”

For Amara Tabor-Smith’s week-long residency in December, she and performer Sherwood Chen plan to visit local urban farms. They will meet with local food justice and community activists and local artists who have been creating work centered around food in the DC/Maryland community. Together they will engage in dialogue about food traditions and issues surrounding sustainability and fresh food access in the DC area. The stories they collect through these gatherings will be woven into Our Daily Bread, an interactive performance project that celebrates food traditions, the folklore surrounding them and looks at the complex issues of sustainability and social responsibility in our current food systems and eating practices. Tabor-Smith will partner with a local food organization or community farm to hold an EAT-in Food Party, a potluck gathering with community members and activists intended to bring people together to share food, song, movement and dialogue.

In January, Jill Sigman plans to use her Green Choreographers Research Residency as a laboratory to bring the field of permaculture into her movement and installation based work. Sigman and local dancers will study principles of permaculture and engage in hands-on work with small living systems. Sigman will create movement scores to understand and embody their research and aims to create improvisational systems for use in her ongoing work, The Hut Project, a series of site-specific structures built out of trash.

She hopes the study of permaculture will allow her to move the focus of the huts from dead systems to living systems, and will explore how our systems of consumption and waste management can be changed through permaculture.

About Dance Exchange

Dance Exchange breaks boundaries between stage and audience, theater and community, movement and language, tradition and the unexplored. Founded in 1976 by Liz Lerman and now under the artistic direction of Cassie Meador, Dance Exchange stretches the range of contemporary dance through explosive dancing, personal stories, humor, and a company of performers whose ages span six decades. The work consists of concerts, interactive performances, community residencies, and professional training in community-based dance. Dance Exchange employs a collaborative approach to dance making and administration. Recent and current projects include explorations of coal mining, genetic research, human rights, particle physics, ecology, land use, and rest in a hyper-driven society. For more about Dance Exchange, visit us as

About Green Choreographers-in-Residence

Amara Tabor-Smith is the Artistic Director of Deep Waters Dance Theater (DWDT), an Oakland based dance company committed to creating work that addresses issues of race, discrimination, spirituality, cultural identity and the environment with the hopes of eliciting dialogue and social change. Amara is the former associate artistic director and company member with Urban Bush Women. She has also worked with artists such as Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Joanna Haigood, Liz Lerman and Anna Deveare Smith. In addition to Deep Waters Dance Theater, she is the Co Artistic Director of Headmistress, a collaboration with artist Sherwood Chen. Amara has been an artist in residency at The Headlands Center for the Arts (CA), Espaço Xisto (Salvador, Bahia), CounterPULSE Theater (SF,CA) and is currently an artist in residence at ODC Theater (SF,CA). She has received grants from The Zellerbach Family Foundation, The Creative Work Fund, The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, WomenArts and The Theatre Bay Area CA$H grant. She is a lecturer in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley.

Jill Sigman asks questions through the medium of the body. Trained in classical ballet, modern dance, art history, and analytic philosophy, Sigman has been nudging people through performance since the early 90s. She founded jill sigman/thinkdance in the same year she received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University. jill sigman/thinkdance exists at the intersection of dance, theater and visual installation, often using non-traditional environments, formats, and ways of engaging the viewer. jill sigman/thinkdance has been produced by such New York venues as Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, Dancing in the Streets, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, and The 92nd Street Y, and has appeared internationally in such places as a dilapidated Belgian printing house, a former arsenal in Croatia, the American Embassy in New Delhi, and the Norwegian Opera House in Oslo. Sigman has been a Choreographic Fellow at MANCC, a Movement Research Artist in Residence, a Fellow of the Center for Creative Research and an Artist in Residence at the Wesleyan University Center for the Arts. She is currently at work on The Hut Project, an exploration of issues around waste, sustainability and real estate through the creation of a series of site-specific structures made of found materials.

For interview requests, photos, and more information on the Green Choreographer Initiative at Dance Exchange, contact Emily Macel Theys at or Sarah Levitt at