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September 2023

Movers & Shapers: Liz Lerman

By Podcast

PODCAST 163: Liz Lerman

Release Date: 9.18.23


    • Apple: Subscribe, Listen, Rate Us HERE

    • Spotify: Follow and Listen HERE

    • Any Smartphone Podcast app: Subscribe and Listen


The Independent Thinker, Liz Lerman

Episode 163: Show Notes

Liz is a choreographer, performer, writer, teacher, and speaker. For the past forty years, she has infused her artistic exploration with a personal touch, humor, intellectual vibrancy, and a contemporary edge. Her choreography has delved into a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from her experiences as a go-go dancer to an exploration of the intricacies of choreography and connections with community. Today, she shares with us insights into what ignited her love for dancing and reflects on the abundant influences that have affected both her life and artistic career. She talks about the importance and complexities of our feelings and how she rode the wild waves of her 20s to discover, for herself, what dance could mean for her. We hear about the impact of her mother’s life and death on her stubbornness to figure life out for herself, why rehearsals should always matter, and the unfolding of events that surround the founding of The Dance Exchange. She expresses and reflects on how she views herself as more of an interdisciplinary artist and her eagerness to be generous about spreading her wealth of knowledge. She then details her passion for the Critical Response Process (CRP) and how that was formed over the years. Join in as we delve into the chronicles of her life and her pursuit of understanding. Tune in now.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Liz offers insight into where she comes from and what ignited her love for dancing.
  • She reflects on the myriad of influences that have affected her life and dance journey.
  • A wild ride in her 20s: riding the waves of figuring out what dance could be for her.
  • The impact of her mother’s life and death on her stubbornness to figure life out for herself.
  • How working intergenerationally moved and shifted her mindset.
  • The response she experienced when she started making work/performances.
  • Making rehearsals matter.
  • More about the founding of The Dance Exchange.
  • She goes into detail about how her different works unfolded uniquely.
  • Her thoughts on the nomadic life and being an ethical visitor.
  • How she began to extract herself from The Dance Exchange: composting Liz.
  • Reflections on how she views herself as more of an interdisciplinary artist.
  • She talks about the Critical Response Process (CRP).
  • Liz delves further into her current projects and pursuits.

About Liz Lerman

Liz Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, teacher, social activist, thought leader and inspirational speaker. She has spent the past four decades making her artistic research personal, funny, intellectually vivid, and up-to-the-minute. Her choreography has examined everything from her days as a go-go dancer in 1974, to investigating the matters of our origins by putting dancers in the tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN-Switzerland.

A key aspect of her artistry is opening her process to everyone from shipbuilders to physicists, construction workers to ballerinas, resulting in both research and experiences that are participatory, relevant, urgent, and usable by others. She founded Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and cultivated the company’s unique multi-generational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance until 2011, when she handed the artistic leadership of the company over to the next generation of Dance Exchange artists.

In 2016, Liz was named the first Institute Professor at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. There, she is also a Senior Global Futures Scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, a faculty affiliate in Jewish Studies and a fellow at the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. She is currently a senior fellow at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Liz conducts residencies on Critical Response Process, creative research, the intersection of art and science, and the building of narrative within dance performance at such institutions as Harvard University, Yale School of Drama, Wesleyan University, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the National Theatre Studio among others.

Most recently, she and her dancers created and performed Wicked Bodies, a piece inspired by powerful and grotesque images of women’s bodies over multiple historic periods. Her work premiered April 2022 at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. It toured to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in August, Arizona State University’s ASU Gammage Theater in September and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in October. Wicked Bodies, an intimate spectacle, brings together several consistent themes of Liz’s choreographic output including the invisible ways and means of feminine thinking and action which have been celebrated, erased, or criminalized; legal systems that attempt but often fail to bend our actions towards a fairer and more just world; and how a group of intergenerational artists brings their personal lives to the stage within characters that are imagining futures.

Among her current projects is building the Atlas of Creative Tools, an online resource intended to create a better, more interesting realm of learning and discovery. Users will be able to interact with dozens of tools and learn how to use them. Resources will include art-making techniques, essays and stories about the tools, examples of their applications and an extensive glossary.

Liz’s most recent book, Critique is Creative: The Critical Response Process in Theory and Action (with co-author John Borstel), was published just last year. It addresses the Critical Response Process, a communication system for giving and receiving feedback that Liz invented decades ago as an antidote to kind of comments that can kill inspiration and rob a creative person of their agency.

Her signature blend of dance, spoken word, music, technology, social commentary and audience involvement has garnered her countless awards and honors, including most recently a Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2017 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award and a MacArthur "Genius" award in 2002.

One reviewer had this to say about Liz: “She’s not so easy to sum up; but among the things that go into her makeup are assuredly an impish sense of humor (she could have been a fine stand-up comedian), an almost metaphysical intensity and seriousness, the imagination of a born fabulist, manic energy and no small dollop of plain old chutzpah.”


Connect with Liz Lerman

Liz Lerman website

Hiking the Horizontal
Liz Lerman’s Critical Respone Process
Critique Is Creative: The Critical Response Process® in Theory and Action


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Liz Lerman: Critical Response Process

Hiking the Horizontal

Ethel Buttler

Martha Graham

Florence West

Ruth Page

Life Magazine Marilyn Monroe Covers 1952-1962

Merce Cunningham

Jan van Dyke

The Dance Exchange

Leslie Jacobson on LinkedIn

Why Survive?

A Woman of Clear Vision

Podcast produced by: The Moving Architects
Interviewer: Erin Carlisle Norton

Movers & Shapers: Anna Pasternak and Blair Brown with Movement Exchange

By Podcast

PODCAST 162: Anna Pasternak and Blair Brown with Movement Exchange

Release Date: 8.4.23



    • Apple: Subscribe, Listen, Rate Us HERE

    • Spotify: Follow and Listen HERE

    • Any Smartphone Podcast app: Subscribe and Listen


Anna Pasternak and Blair Brown with Movement Exchange 

Building Community through Arts Education

Episode 162: Show Notes

Our guests today are passionate about dance, dance education, and serving communities. Join us today as we share a podcast with you featuring an interview with Anna Pasternak, the Founder of Movement Exchange, and Blair Brown, the organization’s current Executive Director. During our conversation, we hear about their journeys with dance, what captivates them about the arts, and how their life paths led them to Movement Exchange. Movement Exchange is an international non-profit organization that provides accessible and sustainable dance education to youth of all ages. They share all about how it started, how it evolved, and their plans for expansion. We hear more about their university chapters and international volunteer dance exchanges and how they build leadership development, cultural awareness, and a passion for community building through arts education. To hear more about their year-round sustainable programs in underresourced communities, be sure not to miss out on today’s episode with Anna and Blair from Movement Exchange!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Anna shares her personal history and transformative journey with dance.
  • What it was about dance that drew her in and sparked her love for dance.
  • She elaborates on her aspirations after high school and how getting into Harvard impacted her dance journey.
  • A gift from Harvard: how anthropology influenced and broadened her knowledge of culture and dance.
  • Fly and be free; the pull to see and experience everything the world had to offer.
  • Anna talks about the exciting journey of founding the Movement Exchange.
  • Her biggest worry stepping down as Executive Director at Movement Exchange.
  • What it meant to Anna working at and being part of Movement Exchange.
  • We hear from Blair about who she is, where she’s from, and what brought her to dance!
  • Blair expresses what it is about the arts that captivate her.
  • Her plans for after high school: ditching the pointe shoes for modern dance.
  • She elaborates on the biggest shift that altered her life as an artist: dance education.
  • Meeting Anna and Movement Exchange; the second jump in her career.
  • She elaborates on her thesis topic and completing her MFA.
  • We discuss the realization of the barrier to dance, even in the USA.
  • Blair expresses her favorite aspects of the role she holds at Movement Exchange.
  • They talk about any pushback experienced with Movement Exchange (and how they counter it).
  • How you can get involved in the Movement Exchange programs.

“There will be nothing in my life that will be as important or have made me as happy as running Movement Exchange.” — Anna Pasternak

Anna Pasternak with Movement Exchange

Anna Pasternak, founder of Movement Exchange, was 25-years-old and working in international development when she dreamed of a way for dancers to make a difference in the world. She asked, “How can dance education reach underserved populations, and how can trained dancers use their skills to give back to the world?” It was her work with Global Brigades in the rural and indigenous regions of Panama that connected Anna to the dance community of Panama, and subsequently inspired her vision for Movement Exchange. Like many young dancers, Anna spent endless hours in a dance studio and thought she was on the path to becoming a professional dancer. However, her interdisciplinary studies at Harvard and years living abroad allowed Anna to look at dance from a different perspective. Intent on the idea of creating a global community of like-minded dancers passionate about service and social justice, Anna founded Movement Exchange in 2010. Anna’s work has been featured in the Harvard Magazine, as a young artist on National Public Television, among other international publications. Anna received her BA from Harvard University and her MS, Nurse Practitioner from UCSF. She previously studied dance at the San Francisco High School of the Arts, the National Arts School of Cuba, and received her early training with Shely Pack-Manning. In 2011, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico City. She is now a proud member of the board of directors for Movement Exchange and continues to guide the organization.

 “Dance is social. It’s all about community and how do we connect with that and make our communities stronger.” — Blair Brown

Blair Brown with Movement Exchange

Blair Brown (MFA, BA) received her BA in Dance from Loyola Marymount University and her MFA in Dance from University of California, Irvine. Since 2012 she has been involved with the non-profit organization Movement Exchange taking part in and leading international exchanges focused on building community through dance. For 10 years she was teaching dance in public schools, community centers, artist residency programs and more in California and New York before taking the position of Executive Director for Movement Exchange. Her career has been led by the passion to create more accessible opportunities for all students to have exposure to arts education. In New York City she created a comprehensive yoga, dance and health program at Storefront Academy Harlem and then spent five years as the dance specialist at Bronx Charter School for the Arts where she created a sequential curriculum for the dance program, oversaw implementation of new arts integration curriculum, and choreographed five productions per year. She has been a big proponent of dance and media technology having created four dance films that have won awards both domestically and internationally. She also used her background in film and media to integrate technology into the dance classroom. Her research has centered around the effects of service learning on developing artists and how experiential learning involving service and cultural exchange can have a lasting impact on one’s artistry and career. She has presented at NDEO conferences and continues to be an active member of the dance education community.



Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Revelations by Alvin Ailey

Pittsburg Ballet Theatre

Martha Graham

Le Moyne Dance 

Bob Fosse

San Francisco High School of the Arts

Harvard University 

The Theatre Oppressed, Brazil 

‘The Theatre of the Oppressed’ 

Habitat for Humanity

Indiana University 

UC Irvine 

Guna People (Atlas of Humanity)

University of Panama

Loyola Marymount University

Trinity Laban

NDEO Conferences

Podcast produced by: The Moving Architects
Interviewer: Erin Carlisle Norton