Dance Buzz

Dance Exchange Collaborates on New Work at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cassie Meador at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Matthew Cumbie, courtesy of Dance Exchange

Dance Exchange, the Takoma Park, Maryland–based nonprofit dance organization founded by Liz Lerman, returns this month to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to continue work on Off-site/Insight: Stories from the Great Smoky Mountains, supported by the National Park Service's Imagine Your Parks initiative.


Beginning with a weeklong residency in fall 2016, Off-site/Insight has brought together Dance Exchange's artistic team, park rangers and a group of local artists to create an intergenerational work slated to be performed in the park this fall, as a cornerstone of Dance Exchange's 40th anniversary season. The project follows the organization's goals of building community, achieving social justice and sharing dance in unexpected settings.

As part of last fall's residency, executive artistic director Cassie Meador and associate artistic director Matthew Cumbie taught park rangers at Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center how to run elementary school workshops that teach ecology alongside dance. “Beyond the performance, we're really interested in how these embodied-learning practices and movement-based tools can serve the park and the rangers beyond our time there," Meador says, “and also build ongoing relationships with local artists—relationships that can support them in their work."


Dance Exchange artists leading a workshop. Photo by Jer Banks, courtesy of Dance Exchange

When they return to the park this month, Meador and Cumbie will reconvene the group of artists—mostly dance artists, but also filmmakers and Appalachian musicians—to determine which communities and groups will join this fall's final performance and a film associated with it. They also plan to finalize a creative research course at Warren Wilson College, in Asheville, North Carolina. The course is intended to draw a broader age range into meaningful engagement with Off-site/Insight, which seeks the stories and histories of older residents of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.

Some of the region's stories center on forest fires like those that ravaged the Great Smoky Mountains late last fall. Cumbie says the particular challenges and heartbreaks faced by the Great Smokies as a result of the fires will also become part of the final performance: “We're listening to how the work needs to happen and who needs to be involved, and shaping the work around questions at the heart of the people who are central to the project."

For more: danceexchange.org

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Q: I'm looking to hire new instructors. How can I create a competitive job listing?

A: We've found the best way to attract qualified applicants for teaching positions at our studio is to be as specific as possible with our expectations, while communicating what makes our studio a great place to work.

Here's an example of a job description we've used when seeking teachers:

Lead Dance Instructor: Tap/Jazz/Contemporary; Choreography for Dance Teams.

Kathy Blake Dance Studios is seeking new instructors to join our faculty. Our performing arts school, located in the Souhegan Valley of New Hampshire, has an emphasis on excellence and love for the art of dance, with a student base aged 2 to adult. We pride ourselves on paying our teachers well, offering a professionally managed front office and fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration among our staff.

We have an immediate opening for a dance instructor whose specialty is teaching intermediate to advanced tap, jazz and/or contemporary, as well as choreographing for competitive dance teams. We are seeking a creative, forward-thinking teacher who brings out the best in dancers. Schedule of 5 to 10-plus classes a week, based on availability. Position begins in August (or sooner, based on teacher availability). The school year runs from September through June. Pay is competitive and commensurate with experience and credentials.

Interested instructors: Please e-mail or reply to this ad with a current resumé and phone number, as well as what you love about teaching and what matters most to you in working for a dance studio.

Can't teach on our regular schedule? Please let us know if you'd like to be considered for our guest-artist master-class events.

Kathy Blake (Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire) and Suzanne Blake Gerety co-founded DanceStudioOwner.com.

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XOXO

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