Liz Lerman’s Dances for Everyone
Lerman, a native Milwaukeean now director of the Dance Exchange in Washington, D.C., is amid a month-long residency at Sheboygan’s John Michael Kohler Art Center. Lerman would like dancers of all ages and skill levels, down to rank beginner, to participate in Beyond Words at the JMKAC.
Lerman’s project is part of JMKAC’s Connecting Communities Collaboration, a group of local organizations that partner with the arts center and team with exceptional leaders in the national arts to celebrate creativity.
In a presentation Tuesday (Feb. 16) evening, Lerman inspired Connecting Communities members with her dedication to revealing the relationships between life and art. Her Dance Exchange, founded in 1976, connects dancers of all ages, including a 75-year old man in the professional company. Their performances reflect the stories they discover in real people. By integrating these personal legacies with choreography based in both classical technique and improvisation, Lerman uncovers the wonder of the human body in motion.
Lerman read from two thought-provoking essays in her forthcoming book, Hiking the Horizontal, to the Tuesday gathering. She spoke of how the artist confronts the traditional hierarchy assigned to cultural institutions and relationships, which leads to further choices in both life and art. Lerman believes most of us think vertically when we should be thinking horizontally. She would have us see ourselves as joined on a continuum rather than ranked in an elitist structure.
Lerman will work with the city of Sheboygan to produce collaborations within the community in this horizontal way. Lerman’s Dance Exchange is in Sheboygan to help rather than command. Lerman sees her work with, say, old people in Wisconsin as just as valuable as dancing on stage at the Kennedy Center.
Everyone, regardless of age or ability, may participate in the building and moving workshops to be held at the JMKAC Feb. 20 and 21, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Workshop participants can decide at an introductory rehearsal on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. whether they wish to go through with a more elaborate
project. Those who move on must commit to rehearsing Feb. 24 through March 11. Lerman intends to arrange schedules to make rehearsals convenient for all involved. The project will culminate in public shows on March 12, 13, and 14.
The experience of the dancers is just as important to Lerman as entertaining an audience. She believes that the moving body inspires the imagination. “Juxtaposing stories with movement helps discover,” Lerman said, in reading from her second essay, “…how we’re born with a body that will teach being and beauty.”
All workshops are free of charge. For information or to participate call 920-458-6144.