Arts Desk

A New Dance Exchange, Starting Sunday

Consider this Sunday night the public launch of a new, reimagined Dance Exchange. The Takoma Park company is going through a bunch of changes; most notably, its founder and artistic director Liz Lerman has left, and longtime company member Cassie Meador is now at the helm. She and the rest of the staff there have a new conception of the company, and it involves carving out a much more local role for itself.

They’re kicking it off with a show Sunday evening titled Lost, Left, Found & Borrowed that features pieces by five local Dance Exchange-affiliated choreographers. The works were funded by the MetLife Foundation (yes, a wing of the insurance firm) as part of its Healthy Living Initiative, so each one will somehow relate to health, healthcare, or aging. Otherwise, though, the pieces—which are by Stephanie Miracle, Graham Brown, Sarah Levitt, Benjamin Wegman, and Martha Whitman—should be quite different.

According to Dance Exchange folks, Sunday is just the start.

“We’d been touring a lot in the past decade, and will shift our focus back to the home front,” says communications manager Emily Macel Theys. “We’ll try to reinvigorate the space here, let it be more of an artistic hub for the area and reclaim the space as our own.”

What that means is more dance-oriented events that make good use of the company’s large, airy studios. The Dance Exchange started a Friday-morning professional-level modern dance class——something the local dance scene has been in sore need of—about a month ago. And the space will also be open to the community on Thursday nights, with activities themed around movement and other creative endeavors. And there’ll be other low-key performances like the one this weekend; Theys says the company is planning to renovate the space and turn one studio into something that could alternatively serve as a performance space.

As for performances by the Dance Exchange itself, Theys was a bit more vague about where and when the company—which is being scaled back from seven to three full-time dancers, plus a number of adjuncts—will be performing in the area. But she stressed that the goal is to present work throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the District in the coming year. Which would be great; the Dance Exchange is one of the area’s only nationally known modern companies, but its performances here in Washington have been scarce.

Lost, Left, Found & Borrowed is Sunday, July 24, 2011, at 7 p.m. $10, $5 for artists, students, and seniors.

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