New Hampshire Ave: This Is a Place To … was a multi-year creative placemaking project that utilized the power of artmaking and performance to bring new meaning to the relationships between individuals, communities, and the places in which they live and work. It was a collaboration with the Housing and Community Development Department of the City of Takoma Park, Maryland, whose “New Ave” initiative fosters the development of economically viable commercial centers, thriving small businesses, and diverse neighborhoods. Dance Exchange’s collaboration with the City invited community members of Takoma Park to connect to New Hampshire Avenue through storytelling, dancemaking, music, visual art, and performance while transforming perceptions of self and others, fostering a deeper relationship between what was and what is, and advocating for their presence and importance in decisions made about their city. Creative engagements and outcomes from the project included visual art and site-based performance, new practices for sharing and engaging with diverse opinions about the present and future of New Hampshire Avenue. See our ArtPlace project page here.
The project explored six core questions of individuals and communities along New Hampshire Avenue:
What brings us to this place? What traditions do we carry here? Which do we leave behind? How do our diverse experiences and journeys to the New Ave corridor shape the place today? What keeps us here? What do we hope for the future of the Avenue?
The Creative Team
The project’s creative team included Dance Exchange artists, visual artists, musicians, and community partners. Click here to meet the Creative Team
|Cassie Meador, Project Director, Lead Curator, Facilitator, Choreographe||Amanda Newman, Project Manager, Facilitator, Choreographer, Performer||Matthew Cumbie, Facilitator, Choreographer, Performer||Meghan Abadoo, Facilitator, Choreographer, Performer|
|Shula Strassfeld, Facilitator & Performer||David Schulman, Music Director, Violin||Don Tillery, Musician (Trumpet)||Mark H Rooney, Musician (Taiko Drums)|
|Nicole Silembe, Visual Art Director, Installation Design & Curation||Nguyên K. Nguyễn, Illustrator||Ben Carver, Photographer||Fetunwork Amendie, Painter|
Outcomes & Stories
This project used art and dialogue to celebrate what New Hampshire Ave is, was, and could be. Dance Exchange worked with several local artists to reflect on the people, places, and stories that shape the Avenue through illustrations, paintings, and photography. Designed by Nicole Salimbene, these commissioned works created an outdoor gallery and installation for the final performance along the Avenue. The art can now be seen and experienced in businesses and residences along New Hampshire Avenue.
Read about the experiences and impacts of the project from members of the creative team, city planners, New Hampshire Avenue residents, partners, and audience members. Read the stories.
Enhancing Cultures of Feedback
Central to the project were a series of workshops Dance Exchange led for professionals across the City of Takoma Park Housing and Community Development Department focused on strengthening the ways the City and their constituents engage in feedback through a planning process. Utilizing core Dance Exchange creative practices and principles of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process (CRP), workshops consisted of: Dialogue regarding the current and historic cultures of feedback in City offices and in the Takoma Park Community; identification of particular opportunities and challenges surrounding feedback in urban planning/city management context; explorations of practical applications of Dance Exchange tools and creative practices within city administration and urban planning. Through these engagements with the City, Dance Exchange is creating and refining a workshop model focused on enhancing the culture and foundations of feedback within city administration and urban planning.
September 2014: New Hampshire Avenue Kick Off Festival
A one-day community festival along New Hampshire Avenue. Attendees created dances about their journeys to, and life along, the Avenue; made music with local musicians; joined in the creation of visual art inspired by the avenue; shared and celebrated stories of local residents and community leaders: and sampled food from many New Ave restaurants representative of the cultural diversity in the area. Dance Exchange kicked off the festival with a performance that utilized underused green spaces, connecting residents across barriers of the cityscape and offering them an opportunity to reflect and share their experiences of life along the Avenue.
Fall 2014: Community dialogue and artmaking gatherings with New Hampshire Avenue residents.
January 2015: DX Winter Institute – The Role of Artists in Building Community
30 artists, educators, and community organizers from around the country convened in January 2015 at Dance Exchange. Over the course of this three-day gathering, participants facilitated a dance and storytelling workshop for community elders at the Takoma Park Recreation Center.
Winter-Spring 2015: Ongoing culture of feedback workshops and community gatherings designed to bring residents together through dancemaking and storytelling. These engagements served as research to better understand how and why residents already gather, which also provided the creative inspiration and fodder for movement scores and stories that found their way into the final choreographed piece.
July 2015: Dance Exchange 2015 Summer Institute and culmination
On July 18, 2015, Dance Exchange offered a free site-specific performance and installation along New Hampshire Avenue. The piece was shaped by the contributions of local communities of New Hampshire Avenue, Dance Exchange Summer Institute participants, and partnering organizations. Local musicians wove together new compositions, recorded stories from New Hampshire Ave, and original music from Liz Lerman’s Still Crossing. The performance and art installation drew together more than 300 participants and attendees to share in the stories, memories, legacy, future, arts, culture, and community atmosphere of New Hampshire Avenue, and took place in conjunction with Dance Exchange’s annual Summer Institute, which gathered together nearly 40 artists, leaders, and changemakers for a week of classes, dancemaking, and sharing in Dance Exchange tools and creative practices.
Fall 2015: Distribution of banners in residences and businesses along New Hampshire.