On Thursday, January 16th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, Dance Exchange presents “Dance Matters: A Discussion on Racial Equity and the Power of the Arts.” This event will encompass a panel, dialogue and reflection, and process sharing that activates the possibilities of leveraging the arts for social change. Featured artists include Jacqueline E. Lawton, Paloma McGregor, and Jesse Phillips-Fein.
"To maintain my energy and commitment to anti-racist organizing as a pillar of my artistic practice, said Paloma McGregor, multidisciplinary artists and longtime Dance Exchange collaborator. "It's important that I work in solidarity with diverse allies who share a similar analysis of the current power structure and a desire for equity. When we come together to do the work, we hold one another accountable and we hold one another up. I'm looking forward to expanding my community and deepening my understanding at Dance Exchange's Home event."
"It is important to me to participate in this event because, as a white person, I benefit from a system of racial inequality that is (literally) killing people of color on a daily basis," said Jesse Phillips-Fein, freelance dancer and choreographer. "The arts are a powerful vehicle for addressing the ways in which I am made complicit in this violence, and a tool through which I can become a collaborator in solution and healing."
"As an intersectional feminist, theatre artist, and advocate for social justice, I strongly believe that we must come together in this work around anti-racism," said playwright and dramaturg Jacqueline E. Lawton, recent collaborator with Dance Exchange on From the Desk of Rachel Carson. "In doing so, we must remember that addressing issues of racism can be traumatizing. We must come to this work with a spirit of curiosity and generosity. While we must be patient with one another, we must also be vigilant in our efforts and work in collaboration. This work should not be done in isolation. I'm honored to join Dance Exchange in these efforts."
Through looking at the role of historical and personal milestones in relationship to experiences, process, and outcomes in the struggle for racial equity, Dance Exchange Artistic Director Cassie Meador, Partnerships and Production Manager Ouida Maedel, University of Maryland PhD candidate Bimbola Akinbola, and featured artists will bring participants into dialogue and creative research to explore the various roles for the arts, humanities, and other disciplines and institutions in advancing racial justice in the United States.
“As artists, we have a perennial responsibility to excavate and shed light on the pressing issues of our time, to confront specific realities and universal truths, and to model civic leadership, empathy, and innovation for others," said Ouida Maedel. "Race is one of the few social constructions that is so pervasive and so deeply ingrained in daily life that it has the power to dictate and manipulate every kind of situation, especially when nobody is looking. It is only through turning and returning our attention to the asymmetries of power so fundamental to our society that we can foster our abilities to recognize their complexity and transform them.”
JACQUELINE E. LAWTON was named one of 30 of the nation's leading black playwrights by Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute. Her plays include: Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful;The Devil’s Sweet Water; The Hampton Years; Ira Aldridge: the African Roscius; Lions of Industry, Mothers of Invention; Love Brothers Serenade (2013 semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference), Mad Breed, and Our Man Beverly Snow. Ms. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. She participated in the Kennedy Center’s Playwrights’ Intensive (2002) and World Interplay (2003). She is a 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color award recipient and a National New Play Network (NNPN) Playwright Alumna. She has been recognized as a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference and the Playwright's Center PlayLabs, and as a SheWrites Festival finalist. A member of Arena Stage's Playwright's Arena and the Dramatist Guild of America, Ms. Lawton currently resides in Washington, D.C. Jacqueline is currently collaborating with Dance Exchange on The Desk of Rachel Carson, a new devised work that explores the life, legacy and career of pioneering writer/ecologist Rachel Carson (1907-1964).
As co-founder of Angela's Pulse, along with her sister, theatre director Patricia McGregor, PALOMA MCGREGOR devises collaborative performance work; collaborates with diverse communities, including artists, activists, educators, students, seniors and scientists; and is dedicated to building community and illuminating undertold stories. Last summer, Angela’s Pulse worked on the creation of a new musical based on the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia at Williamstown Theater Festival. Paloma is currently developing Building a Better Fishtrap, a multidisciplinary performance project that explores water, memory and home, as well as examines what we carry with us, leave behind and reclaim. The developing work has been presented by Earthdance, No Longer Empty and Danspace Project, and will premiere in 2014. Paloma is also curating work through her initiative, Dancing While Black, which aims to support and illuminate the breadth of work by black dance artists. Paloma has toured internationally with Urban Bush Women, and has been a long-time Dance Exchange collaborator, most recently appearing in Cassie Meador’s award-winning How To Lose a Mountain. Awards include a 2012-13 arts leadership fellowship from the Kennedy Center’s DeVos Institute, and grants and residencies from iLAND, the Harlem Stage Fund for New Work, and Voice & Vision.
As a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and producer, Jesse Phillips-Fein's work dissects how large forces affect the fabric of the individual life – exploring the manners in which personal and political meet. She brings attention to how power is created, maintained, and justified through examining its manifestations in, on, and through the body. Jesse’s work “PALE” seeks to define the omnipresent but un-interrogated mentality and experience of being white, confronting the underbelly of that racial experience. Another recent work, “Color Blind Theories,” challenges the belief that being color blind erases racism. Based in Brooklyn, NY, Jesse’s choreographic work has been produced at Brooklyn Arts Exchange/BAX, Dance New Amsterdam, Danspace Project, The Flea, Dixon Place, HERE Arts Center, and Theater for the New City, among others.
Meet the Facilitators
Bimbola Akinbola is a doctoral student in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland. Originally from Columbia, Missouri, she received her B.A from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota where she double majored in American Studies and Studio Art, and conducted research in art history as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. Her current research examines the role that visual and performance art plays in collective memory production within immigrant communities, as well as the archival function of museums and how communities engage with public history.
Since 2011, Ouida Maedel has worked as the Partnerships and Production Manager at Dance Exchange, where her first major project was to produce Cassie Meador’s 500-mile walk and community engagement tour to a coal mine in West Virginia during How To Lose a Mountain‘s development phase. Passionate about the use of the performing arts for social change, Ouida has performed with a traveling theatre troupe in Zambia, and has worked in conflict transformation and public health in Ghana and in the U.S., activating theatre and creative movement for education and civil society engagement. Ouida has performed in, or stage managed a multitude of productions in DC and in New York, she holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, an MA in International Communication and Arts Management from American University, where she was a teaching and research fellow, and she currently serves as a Helen Hayes Award Judge.
Cassie Meador is a choreographer, performer, educator and Artistic Director of the Dance Exchange. Her work is imbued with a passion for her surroundings, a belief in the human capacity for change, and a conviction that art can be a potent form of research and communication. In recent years, Cassie’s choreographic investigations have tackled numerous social and environmental issues through the synthesis of movement, sound, and striking visual images. She was recently selected as the sole artist representative to a research initiative of the International Human Dimensions Program on Global Environmental Change. She is an Associate Artist of the Center for Creative Research, and her writing has been commissioned by Dance Magazine and the National Association for Interpretation. Cassie received her B.F.A. in dance from The Ohio State University. She joined the performing company of the Dance Exchange in 2002 and assumed the role of Artistic Director in 2011.
Additionally, this event brings home a Dance Exchange performance and community engagement work-in-progress, commissioned by The Embrey Family Foundation for Dallas Faces Race, in conjunction with Race Forward’s Facing Race Conference in Dallas Texas, in November 2014.
“Dance Matters: A Discussion on Racial Equity and the Power of the Arts.”
Thursday, January 16th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Dance Exchange, located at 7117 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park MD 20912 (Takoma Metro, Red Line)
Suggested Donation $5
Please contact Ouida Maedel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-270-6700 x19 with any questions.
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 information, visit danceexchange.org.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!