Summer Institute 2016 Faculty

2016 Summer Institute: Celebrating 40 Years of Dancemaking & Creative Practices
July 8-17, 2016
Registration is still open! Info here

Core Facilitation Team

bimbolaBimbola Akinbola, Institute Faculty
Bimbola Akinbola is a doctoral candidate in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland- College Park where she teaches and serves as co-editor of the online publication, Powerlines. Her dissertation considers the liberatory potential of creative placemaking for women artists of the Nigerian diaspora who resist and re-frame traditional trauma narratives of loss and displacement by embracing “sites of (dis)belonging,” which they represent as sites of pleasure, play, and freedom. She has been moving and blogging at Dance Exchange since 2012, and most recently worked as documenter for the Bricks & Bones project.


_DSC2430a (1)Matthew Cumbie, Resident Artist
Matthew Cumbie is a dancemaker, educator, and collaborator based in Washington, DC, and, since 2011, has been working with Dance Exchange. He joined the company shortly after that first meeting, and became a Resident Artist and the Education Coordinator in 2012. In his continually expanding responsibilities with the company, he holds both artistic and administrative leadership roles: from the creation and performance of new work to training artists to directing and visioning the organization’s in-house programming to the management of a number of company projects. Independently his work explores his interests in activism and improvisation, bringing a poetic lens to a specifically queer experience. He has been commissioned to create and show work at places like Harvard University, Texas State University, Triskelion Arts, and AS220, and his interest in collaborative processes has led him to work with a wide range of artists, including Keith Thompson, Sarah Gamblin, jhon stronks, Paloma McGregor, Jill Sigman, Chris Aiken and Angie Hauser, Annie Kloppenberg, and many others. As an emerging leader in arts education, Matthew has also been commissioned to speak at conferences and gatherings, like at the New York City Roundtable Arts in Education conference and the LGBT Health and Art Making conference (co-sponsored by George Washington University and the Human Rights Campaign), and to share his research and work in a long list of studios and classrooms. He holds an MFA in dance from Texas Woman’s University, and spends most of his time with his ewok/dog Lucas and visiting his partner and collaborator in Providence, Tyler. Photo credit: Ben Carver, featuring Matthew and Thomas Dwyer from Dance Exchange’s New Hampshire Ave: This Is a Place To…

EJElizabeth Johnson, Associate Artist & Partnership Development
Elizabeth Johnson (EJ) is a choreographer, dancer, and educator with a focus in socially engaged dance practices. Elizabeth connects communities through choreography, creating dance that promotes civic dialogue, and designing participatory experiences that apply artistic practices in multiple contexts. She has a particular interest in working with youth and elders, developing embodied structures for science learning, and promoting leadership development through the arts. Elizabeth holds a BA in Dance with a minor in Theater from Connecticut College and a MFA from Arizona State University.  She has studied at London Contemporary Dance School, taught and performed internationally. EJ was the Associate Artistic Director of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in Metro DC for over a decade and currently is an Associate Artist and partnerships Associate. She worked at Arizona State University as the Coordinator of Socially Engaged Practice, collaborating with an interdisciplinary team to create new curricula focused on training artists to work in, and engage with, diverse communities. She is currently in Chicago working with Columbia College Chicago and Hubbard Street Dance while doing projects with Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Mesa Arts Center and others. Photo credit:

LizLermanLiz Lerman, Dance Exchange Founder
Liz Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator and speaker. From a piece about her days as a go-go dancer in 1974 to a recent investigation of origins that included putting dancers in the tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, she has spent the past four decades making her artistic research personal, funny, intellectually vivid, and up to the minute. A key aspect of her artistry is opening her process to various publics from shipbuilders to physicists, construction workers to ballerinas, resulting in both research and outcomes that are participatory, relevant, urgent, and usable by others.

She founded Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and cultivated the company’s unique multi-generational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance until 2011, when she handed the artistic leadership of the company over to the next generation of Dance Exchange artists. Now she is pursuing new projects with fresh partnerships, including a recent semester at Harvard University as an artist-in-residence.Her current work Healing Wars just finished touring across the US. Liz conducts residencies on the Critical Response Process, creative research, the intersection of art and science, and the building of narrative within dance performance at such institutions as Harvard University, Yale School of Drama, Wesleyan University, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the National Theatre Studio among many others.

Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer, Liz’s collection of essays, was published in 2011 by Wesleyan University Press and released in paperback in 2014.

Liz has been the recipient of numerous honors, including a 2002 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship and a 2011 United States Artists Ford Fellowship in Dance. Her work has been commissioned by Harvard Law School, the Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival, and the Kennedy Center among many others.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Milwaukee, Liz attended Bennington College and Brandeis University, received her BA in dance from the University of Maryland, and an MA in dance from George Washington University. She is married to storyteller Jon Spelman. Their daughter is a documentary photographer who lives and works in Southeast Asia. Photo credit: JS Rosenthal

CassieCassie Meador, Artistic Director
Cassie Meador is a choreographer, performer, educator, writer and Artistic Director of the Dance Exchange. Her works have tackled numerous social and environmental issues such as How To Lose a Mountain, which reflects on a 500-mile walk Meador took from Washington, DC to a mountaintop removal mining site in West Virginia to trace the impacts of the energy that fuel her home.

Meador’s Moving Field Guides, an interactive outdoor experience led by artists, naturalists and regional experts in ecology, is being implemented nationwide in partnership with the USDA Forest Service. She is currently leading two multi-year projects: New Hampshire Ave: This is a Place To… a creative placemaking project funded by NEA and ArtPlace America in Dance Exchange’s home community of Takoma Park, MD; and Bricks and Bones: A performance series in response to the erasure of black lives and communities in Dallas, TX and the movements to recover, rebuild and honor those lost histories. This project, supported by the Embrey Family Foundation, Ignite|ArtsDallas and SMU, and Dallas Faces Race, is co-directed by Meador and Paloma McGregor of Angela’s Pulse.

Meador has taught and created dances in communities throughout the U.S. and internationally in Japan, Canada, England, Ireland, and Guyana. She has worked with the Girl Scouts to enhance environmental curricula through the arts. Her work with Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment has influenced educators and students to embrace a cross-disciplinary approach to conservation and environmental education. Born in Charleston, SC, and raised Augusta, GA, she received her B.F.A. in dance from The Ohio State University. Meador joined Dance Exchange in 2002 and assumed the role of Artistic Director in 2011. Photo Credit: Jeremy Banks

Rotating Facilitation Team

MeghanMeghan Abadoo
I’m a choreographer and teacher based in Mount Rainier, MD, as well as an associate artist with the Dance Exchange and a 2016/2017 US Fulbright Fellow. My choreographic research and teaching methodologies explore racial justice and transformational dialogue within concert “dance events”. Between receiving my BFA in Dance Education at the University of the Arts and MFA in Dance from the University of Maryland (UM) I performed for seven years as a company member with Gesel Mason, David Dorfman Dance, Urban Bush Women and Liz Lerman. I’ve taught as a guest artist at East Carolina University and Dickinson College. In my most recent dance theater works, “Unlawful Assembly” (2016), “Octavia’s Brood: Riding the Ox Home” (2015) and “Wake Up!”, a contemporary adaption of Spike Lee’s 1988 film, “School Daze”, I’ve sought to collapse notions of otherness and emphasize the capacity for dance to catalyze and sustain social action. I’ve presented my research on race, disability and dance at the American College Dance Association and the Lily-DC Conference. I’m also an intergroup dialogue facilitator with the Words of Engagement program in the UM office of diversity and inclusion, and a student of the Mountain and River’s Order of Zen Buddhism. I love to read, draw with loose ink and fountain pen, and spin to Stevie Wonder with my daughter in the comfort of our kitchen.

JohnBJohn Borstel
John Borstel is a maker, writer, and facilitator of experiences in critique and learning. His award-winning work, combining elements of photography, performance, and text, has been seen in galleries throughout his native DC/Baltimore area and as far afield as New Mexico, England, and Israel. In 21 years on the administrative staff of Dance Exchange, he coordinated numerous projects in documentation, dissemination, and evaluation, reflecting the stage and community work of this innovative performance company, founded by MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Liz Lerman in 1976. He is co-author and illustrator of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process and has traveled widely to teach and facilitate this unique feedback system, which emphasizes the values of dialogue and active involvement by the artist. A published writer on arts practice and active faculty member at Photoworks Glen Echo, John is co-blogger at, a collaborative venture with theatre artist Catherine Mueller. John holds a B.A. in English from Georgetown University and an MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College.

ReggieDanielsReggie Daniels
Reggie Daniels, collaborator on the dance/theater film Well Contested Sites, core member of the artistic team of Separate Sentence and co-author/choreographer and performer of ManAlive; from the edge of incarceration to the flight of imagination. Reggie was born and has lived on Potrero Hill in San Francisco his entire life. He graduated from Riordan High School and San Francisco City College. He completed his master’s degree in May 2014 at University of San Francisco in the School of Management and is currently a second year student in the Doctoral Degree Program in Education at USF. He is a Manalive Facilitator and case manager at the San Bruno County Jail and a Community Works West employee. After struggling with the criminal justice system for fifteen years, Reggie discovered Roads to Recovery, an in-custody substance abuse program. This was followed by a year-long peer advocacy program, Manalive, a violence prevention program for men to organize against violence in their homes and communities. He hopes his story of transformation from violent survivor to community advocate will empower others to find peace through artistic expression. Reggie has been honored with the Black History Month Local Heroes Award and highlighted on KQED; in July 2012, he received the In the Trenches “Change Agent” Award from Bayview Hunter’s Point Multipurpose Senior Services.

PeterDiMuroPeter DiMuro
Peter DiMuro has woven a career as a performer, choreographer, director, teacher, facilitator and arts engager, touring and teaching internationally. He was Artistic Director of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange 2003-2008, capping a 15 year relationship as performer, choreographer and collaborating artist with the company founded by MacArthur “Genius” Lerman. His current creative umbrella is Peter DiMuro / Public Displays of Motion, a company that develops and performs artistic works and cultivates dance/arts literacy, advocacy and engagement. The company was recently awarded a  3 year Boston Center for the Arts residency, as well as the Boston Dance Alliance’s 2014/15 Rehearsal and Retreat Fellowship.

As Executive Director of The Dance Complex, he returns to the arts center where he made his professional debut with Gerri Houlihan’s Boston Dance Project. He has shepherded a founder transition and the organization into its 25th year, opening a storefront studio within its Cambridge, MA historic building, bringing dance eye level with the community for the first time. The Dance Complex was awarded a historic $500,000 grant from the Barr Foundation this year to help build capacity for the organization and restore the building. Programmatically, The Dance Complex has expanded choreographic creative laboratories into multiple opportunities for area dance makers, and reestablished a full season of presentations in the center’s 100 seat theatre.

Peter’s work has appeared on tour and been commissioned by leading presenters, as well as on a nationally aired television commercial for the National Institute on Aging. He directed seminal projects for Dance Exchange, including “The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Project” and the 17-city tour of “Hallelujah Project”. Peter touring works “Near/Far/In/Out”,  a first of its kind look at inter-generational queer communities and “The Farthest Earth From Thee, commissioned by MetLife and VSArts for a cast of all ages and abilities, are among favorite projects. His LGBTQ inspired Nutcracker-esque  “Gumdrops and the Funny Uncle”, first toured with LLDX and is now in revival in Boston area theatres.

Peter has taught for Cornerstone Theatre Institute/LA, American Dance Festival and Bates Dance Festival and adjudicated American College Dance  Association regional conferences. He has served on the boards of the Dance Umbrella/Boston, National Performance Network, Dance/USA, Capitol Region Educators in Dance Organization, and as a mentor and panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, Maryland State Arts Council, DC Commission for the Arts.

AmieDowlingAmie Dowling
Amie Dowling creates dance and theater for the stage, for film and in community settings. For the past 16 years, her work has considered the politics and representation of mass incarceration. Well Contested Sites, a collaboration with Bay Area artists, some of who were previously incarcerated, won the 2013 International Screendance film prize. The next film, A Separate Sentence, is currently in post-production. As an artist in residence at San Quentin Prison, she collaborates with the Artistic Ensemble, a group of 20 men, in creating original works of movement and theater. Amie is the Chair of the Performing Arts and Social Justice Department at the University of San Francisco. Recently she has received funding for her work from the Wattis Foundation, Creative Work Fund, Theater Bay Area, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Fonds Soziokultur, and is a recipient of a choreography fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. From 1988-1994 Amie was a core member of the Liz Lerman/Dance Exchange. Photo Credit: Peter Merts, featurin Amie and the San Quentin Arts Ensemble.


Krissie Marty
As Associate Choreographer for Forklift Danceworks, Krissie recently directed RE Source, a performance/installation in the recycling warehouse of Goodwill Central Texas with over 70 employees.  She co-directed PowerUP! featuring employees of Austin Energy, Play Ball Downs Field in honor of the historic Negro League ball field, Afoot: A Marching Band Extravaganza with three bands, and The Trees of Govalle with Austin’s Urban Forestry Program. In her role as Forklift’s Director of Education, Krissie leads the Leaps & Bounds and Learning in Motion programs. She has taught with Wolf Trap’s Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, Jacob’s Pillow School & Curriculum in Motion, New Vic (London), Adugna Dance in Ethiopia, Grinnell College and Towson University.  Her choreography has been performed at the Kennedy Center, Stratford Circus in London, Chateau de Cazals in France, PS122 and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Krissie has worked with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in DC and Big Art Group in NYC, among other dance and theatre companies.

Amanda Newman
Amanda Newman is an artist and creator currently based in Washington, DC. During Dance Exchange’s 2014-2015 season, Amanda acted as Resident Artist/Communications Coordinator/Youth Programs Facilitator. This year, Amanda is using her creative capacities to help drive sustainable healthcare innovation as part of a fellowship with Health for America. Whether she’s working in a studio, in a hospital, or in a boardroom, Amanda is deeply invested in the power of movement and storytelling to broaden our circles of inclusion, write and rewrite our individual and collective narratives, and allow space for complex, critical conversations. Photo credit: Ben Carver, featuring Amanda in Dance Exchange’s New Hampshire Ave: This Is a Place To…

AllisonOrrAllison Orr
From sanitation workers to firefighters, Venetian gondoliers to professional baseball players, power linemen to forestry technicians, Allison creates award-winning choreography with all kinds of performers. Challenging audiences to expand notions of dance and performer, Allison finds the raw material for her work in the stories and experiences of ordinary people, spending months researching and immersing herself in the community she is engaging. Uncovering that which is essential to the life of a community but often goes unnoticed is central in Allison’s work, as she seeks to give voice to people who may be marginalized or frequently overlooked. Recently a visiting scholar at Wesleyan University, Allison has been commissioned by numerous presenters including the Fuesebox Fetival and the Kyoto Arts Center. She was named Best Choreographer of 2003, 2008 and 2013 by the Austin Critics Table, Best Movement Illuminator by the Austin Chronicle, one of Tribeza Magazine’s Top 10 Austinites.

ShulaShula Strassfeld
Shula Strassfeld is a dance artist living and working in Toronto. From 2006-2015 she was a Resident Artist at Dance Exchange. Her present work includes teaching for Dance With Parkinsons, workshops for long term care residents and caregivers, teaching and choreographing for Kashedance. She is in the teacher training certification program for Klein Technique. In the fall of 2015 she was a guest artist with Keith Thompson’s DanceTactics Performance Group. Shula has been dancing for over 40 years and has performed and taught in the US, Israel, England and Canada. She has an MA in Dance Education from Columbia University‎.



KeithThompsonKeith Thompson
Keith A. Thompson, danced internationally for the Trisha Brown Dance Company from 1992-2001, served as Trisha’s Rehearsal Assistant from 1998-2001, currently full time faculty in the Dance Department at Mason Gross School of the Arts, performs and rehearsal directs for Liz Lerman; teaches globally for Sasha Waltz & Dancers (Berlin), TsEKh Summer Dance School Moscow Russia, the International Dance Festival (Kyoto, Sapporo, Tokyo Japan), Tanzwerkstatt Europa Festival (Munich), the Korea Dance Festival (Seoul, Korea); his company, ‘danceTactics performance group’, has been featured at Harvard University, the American Dance Festival Faculty Concert, Montpellier International Dance Festival, Dance Theater Workshop Guest Artist Series 2006 (New York, NY); Dance Boom Festival at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, Dixon Place NYC, the 2013 Dancenow Joe’s Pub New York Festival, the 2011 Annual Aging in America Conference, 2012 2nd Annual Feature Length Independent Choreography Festival in Brooklyn NY, Jersey Moves Festival at NJPAC in Newark NJ, Triskelion Art Center’s Split Bill Series in Brooklyn and the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. Photo Credit: Jaclyn Borowski, featuring Keith Thompson in Liz Lerman’s The Matter of Origins