October 13-19: Access & Ability Series

Dance Exchange brings together local, national, and international partners to explore dance, performance, and movement with all abilities October 13-19, 2016. All events take place at Dance Exchange (7117 Maple Ave, Takoma Park). Dance Exchange studios are wheelchair accessible. See more about studio accessibility and location here.

Thursday, October 13 at 7 PM
HOME: Access & Ability Community Conversation

Open to the public. $10-$20 suggested donation

A conversation with Dance Exchange artists and local and national partners on dancing and performing with all abilities, we will explore one of the questions central to Dance Exchange’s mission: who gets to dance? Join Associate Artistic Director Matthew Cumbie and DX adjunct artist Bimbola Akinbola, as well as Alison Whyte (DC Department of Disability Services), Sandy Roachford (multi-ability performance arts organization ArtStream), and Dr. Christine Magee (George Washington University) for an evening of creative conversations and light refreshments. All ages welcome. 

This evening is part of Dance Exchange’s HOME series, Thursday evenings that create connections between DX, our local community, and beyond.


danceability-internationals-emery-blackwell-and-alito-alessi-photo-by-brian-lanker-archivesSaturday, October 15, 10:30 AM – 5:30PM
Creative Research Intensive w/ DanceAbility

Sliding scale $75-$150. To register, email Programs Coordinator Sam Horning at samh@danceexchange.org.

A creative research intensive with Dance Exchange in partnership with DanceAbility, joining us from Eugene, Oregon. The full-day intensive includes opportunities to connect and explore with DanceAbility and Dance Exchange creative practices.


10:30-11:00 AM: Welcome & Orientation

11:00 AM -1:00 PM: Dance Exchange Session
More about this session coming soon.

1:00-2:30 PM: Lunch break (food not included – please bring or purchase your own)

2:30-4:30 PM: Sensation, Relation, Time, and Design
DanceAbility’s Alito Alessi’s workshop will explore:

  • how to determine common denominators in order to work all-inclusively,
  • basic concepts of movement improvisation, based on things that can be done by ALL participants – for example: fast,
  • slow, and still; interpretation of movement
  • exploring self and sensation
  • communicating non-verbally with partners and improvising using physical contact: relation
  • working beyond predictable back and forth actions: timing, and
  • communicating and expressing in larger groups: design

4:30-4:45 PM: Break

4:45-5:30 PM:  Reflection & Close Out

Don’t miss DanceAbility’s performance of Don’t Leave Me at the National Building Museum on Sunday, October 16.

331-home-promoAlito Alessi, based in Eugene, Oregon, has been involved with the evolution of contemporary dance for the past 35+ years, and is internationally known as a pioneering teacher and choreographer in the fields of contact improvisation, and dance and disability. He teaches month-long DanceAbility Teacher Certification Courses twice a year, around the world. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and award-winning choreographer. First, his choreographic/performance work with Karen Nelson, Mary Oslund and others brought contact improvisation vocabulary on stage and broke gender barriers in the early 80’s, with women lifting men as much as vice versa. Since the 90’s he has focused more on choreographing with a mix of dancers with, and without, disabilities. His most recent full-length dance choreography, “Don’t Leave Me,” features eight dancers with and without disabilities. It won National Endowment for the Arts funding and will be shown at the National Building Museum (Washington, D.C.) on Sunday, September 9th at 6:00 p.m. The dance piece was designed in collaboration with the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts and uses a move-able and responsive set in innovative ways.


Wednesday, October 19, 6:30 – 9 PM
Workshop w/ Jess Curtis/Gravity & Claire Cunningham

$30 pre-registration/$35 at door. Space is limited!
To register, email Programs Coordinator Sam Horning at samh@danceexchange.org.

UK artist Claire Cunningham of Glasgow, Scotland teams up with US-Berlin choreographer Jess Curtis to lead a master class for movers of all abilities. A class for those with movement experience in all kinds of body-based performance practices. Material is accessible to folks with diverse physicalities.

Also, catch their performance of their new duet Watch Me Watch You at Dance Place on October 22-23, 2016.

Claire Cunningham is a performer and creator of multi-disciplinary performance based in Glasgow, Scotland. One of the UK’s most acclaimed and internationally renowned disabled artists, Cunningham’s work is often rooted in the study and use/misuse of her crutches and the exploration of the potential of her own specific physicality with a conscious rejection of traditional dance techniques (developed for non-disabled bodies) or the attempt to move with the pretence of a body or aesthetic other than her own. A self-identifying disabled artist, Cunningham’s work combines multiple artforms and ranges from the intimate solo show ME (Mobile/Evolution) (2009), to the large ensemble work “12” made for Candoco Dance Company. In 2014 she created a new solo: Give me a reason to live, inspired by the work of Dutch medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch and the role of beggars/cripples in his work, and the full length show Guide Gods, looking at the perspectives of the major Faith traditions towards the issue of disability. She is a former Artist-in–Residence at the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank, London and of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queens. In 2016 she is the Artist in Residence with Perth International Arts Festival, Australia and Associate Artist at Tramway, Glasgow, and she has recently been awarded an Unlimited Commission for a new duet with choreographer Jess Curtis.

Jess Curtis is an award-winning choreographer and performance artist who is committed to an art-making practice that is informed by experimentation, innovation, critical discourse, and social relevance at the intersections of fine art and popular culture. Curtis co-founded the radical performance collective CORE, and created and performed multi-disciplinary dance theater throughout the U.S., Europe, and the former Soviet Union with Contraband in the 80’s and 90’s. In 2000, after 15 years of making dance in the Bay Area as an independent choreographer, Curtis founded his own company, Jess Curtis/Gravity. Known for his interdisciplinary and cross-genre work, Curtis has collaborated with some of the most innovative artists working today, including Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Jules Beckman, Keith Hennessy, Angela Schubot, Ingo Reulecke, Jochen Roller, Sommer Ulrickson, Maria Francesca Scaroni, Jörg Müller, Claire Cunningham, and many others. He has been commissioned or co-commissioned to create works for Artblau, the LOFT Theater, Schloss Bröllin, Berlin Senat, and Fabrik Potsdam (Germany); ContactArt (Italy); Theatre de Cachan and Chien Cru (France); Blue Eyed Soul Dance Company and DaDa Fest (England); Croi Glan Integrated Dance (Ireland); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the San Francisco Edge Festival, the Florida Dance Association/ Tigertail Productions, the National Performance Network, and ODC Theater (US.) The 2011 winner of the prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts for choreography, Curtis’s other honors include six Isadora Duncan Dance awards, a Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and two SF Weekly Black Box Awards. Curtis is active as an advocate and community organizer in the field of dance and disability, and teaches Dance, Contact Improvisation, and Interdisciplinary Performance for individuals of all abilities throughout the US and Europe. He has been a visiting professor at UC Berkeley and and the University of the Arts in Berlin. He holds an MFA in Choreography and PhD in Performance Studies from UC Davis.


Part of DX’s Organizing Artists for Change (OAC) initiative.