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2011 Spring Issue 8 (May 27, 2011)

Lerman lectures on dance and the liberal arts

May 27, 2011
By Maddy Crowell

The famous founder of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Liz Lerman, visited Carleton last Thursday, May 12th to give a lecture on visualizing the liberal arts. She emphasized the collaboration between dancers, communities, and experts from diverse disciplines.

Founded in 1976, Lerman’s company “is a professional dance company that creates, performs, teaches and engages people in making art,” according to the Lerman website. “Since its founding in September 1976, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange has produced more than 100 innovative dance/theatre works, presented thousands of performances and conducted innumerable community encounters.” Though the company is centered in Washington D.C, it has expanded over the years to stretch across both sides of the country, as well as abroad in Europe.

When Lerman founded the company, she founded it with the vision of teaching or sending a message through a dance performance, dancing to exhibit bigger ideas. She has been described by The Washington Post as “the source of an epochal revolution in the scope and purposes of dance art.” Her approach to dance is aesthetic but serious, ranging from both more abstract dances to political statements. Her dances can encompass anything in between the spectrum: she has choreographed dances about baseball games, Russian history, and the human genome, for example.

Since founding her company, Lerman has received many awards and honors, including the American Choreographer Award, Washingtonian Magazine’s 1988 Washingtonian of the Year, and a 2002 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship. Liz’s work has been commissioned by the Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival, BalletMet, the Kennedy Center, and Harvard Law School.

Her current project is entitled, “The Matter of Origins,” and seeks to examine the origins of the universe and celebrate the contributions of some of the greatest minds. “One of the things we’re interested in is what are the questions scientists are asking, and which of those questions have real, enormous resonance for the public?” Lerman said. “For example, they think they’re going to understand more about the big bang, and I think the public is just incredibly interested in that. I think how we see our beginnings really affects us emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, in all kinds of ways.”

To learn more about Liz Lerman, visit her website: http://danceexchange.org/

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