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Latest Dance Exchange project zeroes in on LGBTQ+ community

Andy Torres, pictured in the foreground, is a collaborator in the Dance Exchange project “Growing Our Own Gardens.”  COURTESY PHOTOAndy Torres, pictured in the foreground, is a collaborator in the Dance Exchange project “Growing Our Own Gardens.” COURTESY PHOTODance involves not only movement and music but community involvement.

That’s the viewpoint of Dance Exchange, a Takoma Park-based, non-profit arts organization devoted to dance-making and creative practices that engage individuals and communities of all ages to cultivate a deeper understanding of one’s world.

“Dance Exchange collaborates across generations, disciplines, and communities to channel the power for performance as a means for dialogue, a source of critical reflection, and a creative engine for thought and action,” said Matthew Cumbie, associate artistic director.

One of the communities Dance Exchange is now exploring is the D.C. area’s queer community.

With the collective title of “Growing Our Own Gardens,” the organization has created an ongoing project that promotes “dialogue and action about issues faced by LGBTQ+ communities and centers the stories, lives, and questions of LGBTQ+ throughout history,” Cumbie said. “We’re looking at the history of these communities but bringing the conversation into the modern day.”

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Community-minded dance group kicks up heels

IMG 5630 JoriKetten copy Dance ExchangeFamilies participate in a Moving Field Guide, an interactive experience led by Dance Exchange artists along with naturalists. COURTESY PHOTO BY JORI KETTEN  When Gene Kelly passed away, a dance critic commented that he made truck drivers feel they could dance.

Dance Exchange has similar goals.

For 40 years – 20 of them in Takoma Park – Dance Exchange has been “democratizing” what is often seen as an “elitist” art form. The nonprofit organization believes “you don’t have to be a dancer to dance, that whoever you are, you can move your body,” said Alison Waldman, marketing and communications manager.

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