Organizing Artists for Change

KM_C224e-20160518112800At Dance Exchange, we see the value that dance has for initiating change in our communities, be those communities created by geography, common purpose, backgrounds, ages, or shared vision.  

As we celebrate 40 years of dancemaking in the 2016-17 season, we are also celebrating one of our greatest capacities as an organization— the ways that we advance an ever-growing body of creative practices in partnership with artists and partners across diverse communities and disciplines. Through this work we support and build together our capacities as individuals, communities, and organizations to ignite inquiry and inspire action. Over these four decades, this work has lived in our institutes, residencies and in every community engagement. We are now advancing these efforts by developing and articulating new ways for creating artistic work that enhances local value and impact beyond Dance Exchange’s involvement.  

We’ve launched our new initiative Organizing Artists for Change, or OAC. OAC offers a range of opportunities to join Dance Exchange in extending the relevance that our dancemaking can have. Together we will share and develop creative practices, discover new pathways for dancemaking in the world, connect and collaborate with artistic peers, enhance facilitation skills, and become changemakers through creative projects around the country. As Dance Exchange continues to create innovative performance projects, the OAC initiative will be a foundation for these creative outcomes.

The OAC initiative offers new ways of organizing that support us in cultivating environments where change can thrive. OAC offerings will include:

2015 Winter Institute (photo: Ben Carver)

2015 Winter Institute (photo: Ben Carver)

Institutes: Based on the core creative practices of Dance Exchange, our Institutes offer a dynamic and multi-disciplinary experience to grow as movers, makers, collaborators, and leaders. These gatherings, which range from 3-10 days, provide opportunities for people of all ages to train with Dance Exchange and to come together as a thinking, moving, and working community. With a focus on responding to important issues and opportunities of our time, we share tools and practices for researching, generating, and making both artwork and action. Historically, these Institutes have taken place in our Takoma Park studios (and in our surrounding community/with community partners). As part of the OAC Initiative, we will continue to host an annual Summer Institute in the DC region, and are seeking opportunities to tour the Institute to host sites such as colleges, universities, art centers, and other institutions. Our Institutes can be connected to the development of performance projects or independent engagements, and can be customized with our partners to address the challenges and opportunities they face. More about upcoming institutes here.

Bricks & Bones, 2015 (photo: Classi Nance)

Bricks & Bones, 2015 (photo: Classi Nance)

Artist Cohorts: Through the OAC, Dance Exchange will further our recent practice of convening a local artist cohort during our creative residencies. Often, Dance Exchange works for an extended period of time (1-2 weeks or repeat visits over the course of multiple years) with colleges, universities, or other institutions. We are committed to developing projects with cohorts at each residency location to ensure that the engagement has local value and impact beyond Dance Exchange’s time on the ground. In sharing and developing creative practices with these cohorts, together we are advancing the ways dancemaking can have a more sustaining relationship and impact with the communities where we live, work, and visit.

Moving Field Guides (photo: Jer Banks)

Moving Field Guides (photo: Jer Banks)

Creative Research Intensives: A place of conversation and incubation between Dance Exchange artists and visiting artists and partners, our Creative Research Intensives explore and advance the ways our research and practices build our capacities to ignite inquiry and inspire action. Ranging from 1 to 5 days, these intensives enable our local community to intersect with a larger creative community and movement research field in our home studios, and build on the body of creative practices.  

DX Fellowship Program: Through the OAC, we are developing a year-long fellowship program that will invite artists to work alongside Dance Exchange through our Institutes, in the development of performance projects and community residencies, and through our local programming. Fellows will have opportunities to enhance their facilitation skills, learn and contribute to Dance Exchange’s body of creative practices, and develop their own creative initiatives with mentorship and feedback from other fellows and Dance Exchange artists.

DX Publications: Through the creation of publications in print and online, Dance Exchange is able to document our creative practices and share them worldwide. Through our 40-year history, these have included: the Dance Exchange Toolbox, an online resource for tools that have developed and evolved over the years; Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process, a method for giving and receiving feedback that is used worldwide; and Cassie Meador’s Moving Field Guide: A Teacher Training Toolkit for Grades 3-5, a guidebook for teachers to discover new ways to engage students in science learning and help make connections between our bodies and the environment. Dance Exchange is committed to the continued practice of reflection, documentation and articulation of our creative practices and, through the OAC, will further this work by expanding our series of publications and continue to offer trainings connected to these publications.