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Movers & Shapers: Jeanne Ruddy

By Podcast

PODCAST 167: Jeanne Ruddy

Release Date: 11.20.23


    • Apple: Subscribe, Listen, Rate Us HERE

    • Spotify: Follow and Listen HERE

    • Any Smartphone Podcast app: Subscribe and Listen

Acrobats of God with Jeanne Ruddy

Episode 167: Show Notes.

While dance is often underfunded and under-recognized, leaders in the field acknowledge the incredible talent that lives within every dancer, reminding them that they are, in fact, ‘Acrobats of God’. Today’s guest embodies the purpose of the Movers and Shapers Dance Podcast; to share insights from those who shape the dance field, and create an archive that preserves rich, personal experiences across generations. During this episode, Jeanne Ruddy shares what it was like to be a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, and to work with Martha herself. You’ll also hear how she forged her own unique role in dance, how she encourages other artists to flourish, and her passion for nurturing future generations of dancers in Philadelphia. Tuning in, you’ll learn all about Jeanne’s journey as a dancer, and finding her way to creative expression thereafter. Join us to hear all about the highs and lows of our guest’s incredible career today.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An introduction to guest, Jeanne Ruddy, and the topics covered in this conversation.
  • Her first experiences of dance and her lifelong love of music.
  • The changing dance scene of the 1960s.
  • Jeanne’s relationship with the dramatic aspects.
  • The pivotal period of time for a dancer between 16 and 21.
  • Her experience at North Carolina School of the Arts and Utah Repertory Dance Theatre.
  • Traveling to New York and starting a company with no capital.
  • Getting a huge break with Yuriko Kikuchi after auditioning with Getting to Know You. 
  • Being chosen to be in the Martha Graham Dance Company and enjoying a ten-year career.
  • Why Martha would sit in the second wing, stage right, in a director’s chair, during performances.
  • Martha’s relationship with the artists.
  • Learning choreography from horrible 8mm film.
  • The eventual decision to leave the company due to pain.
  • Teaching at Sarah Lawrence, Connecticut College, and Florida State University.
  • Why meeting Victor Keene at 39 changed Jeanne’s life.
  • The birth of the Performance Garage.
  • How her husband has facilitated the amazing work she has been able to do.
  • Three phases of renovation that led to the Performance Garage’s current HQ.
  • The program Jeanne currently facilitates for dancers.
  • Reflections on the underappreciation for the art form of dance.
  • What Martha Graham taught: dancers are acrobats of God.
  • Upcoming events with the Moving Company.

“I walked out of Deaths and Entrances, I was definitely a child of the 60s, and I didn’t like it. Seven years later, I was playing one of the sisters in that very piece in Lincoln Centre. I loved it.” — Jeanne Ruddy


Jeanne Ruddy is a dance professional whose career has spanned six decades. Primarily a modern contemporary dance artist, her work has encompassed sacred dance, contemporary dance, Broadway, film, teaching, writing and choreography. Her work has influenced and touched generations of dancers and choreographers through her performances, her choreography and her teachings in the United States as well as in Germany, Russia, Brazil, and Cuba. She has established three dance companies over her career: Raintree Dance Harvest in Bloomington, Indiana, Jeanne Ruddy & Dancers in New York City, and Jeanne Ruddy Dance in Philadelphia. Her choreography combines compelling narratives about a variety of social issues such as abuse of women, climate change, navigating personal relationships and the universal voyage of life. 

Her first professional job in New York was on the Bicentennial Tour of The King and I with Yul Brenner, where she later performed in the Broadway cast. Fulfilling a dream, she was chosen to become a member of the Martha Graham Company where she worked with Ms. Graham for a decade when Ms. Graham choreographed two new works a year for the Company’s New York seasons. Ruddy rose to Principal Dancer and was featured in the PBS Great Performances series in Graham’s Cave of the Heart. She also performed leading roles in such Graham works as Andromache’s Lament, Diversion of Angels, Deaths and Entrances, Seraphic Dialogue, Clytemnestra, Cortege of Eagles, Embattled Garden, Herodiade, and Appalachian Spring. At that time, the Graham Company toured four months of each year throughout the US, Europe, Mexico, and Canada playing the world’s most important stages. After leaving the Graham Company Ruddy was a guest professor at Connecticut College, Sarah Lawrence College, and Florida State University as well as accepting invitations for international congresses of dance and summer festivals in Brazil, Cologne, Germany, Moscow, Russia, and later Cuba. In the American Dance Festival in Moscow, Ruddy was the first to introduce the Graham Technique to Russian dancers at the Bolshoi and across Russia. Ruddy was invited to join the faculty of the Juilliard School Dance Division teaching the freshman and 2 senior classes while also serving as the scout for hopeful dancers auditioning across America. Concurrently, Ruddy taught at the Alvin Ailey School of American Dance and was promoted to Chair of the Contemporary Dance Department and was involved in the initial concept of the partnership with Fordham University for the creation of the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program. 

Ruddy relocated to Philadelphia through marriage and founded Jeanne Ruddy Dance, a contemporary dance company that grew to eleven dancers performing and creating new work by Ruddy and other invited top-tier choreographers over thirteen years. The need for a rehearsal space to house the JRD Company created the Performance Garage. Co-founded by Ruddy, with her husband, Victor Keen, it is now Philadelphia’s home for dance with a 110-seat dance theater. It is a non-profit where Victor has served on the Board since its inception. Now, twenty-thousand people enjoy either classes, rehearsals, auditions, video shoots, or performances each year. Ruddy considers the creation of the Performance Garage her most important contribution to the field by supporting burgeoning dance companies and emerging independent choreographers to develop and further the art form. For her work with her company, Jeanne Ruddy Dance, and her work developing the Performance Garage, Ruddy received The Independence Foundation Fellowship Award in 2000. Other awards and grants include the National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America as well as the NEA’s Artistic Excellence award, three Pew Foundation Dance Advance awards, three William Penn Foundation grants, six Fels Foundation awards, nine years of support from the Independence Foundation, the Dolfinger McMahon, PECO—an Exelon Company, Land Services Inc,

Independence Blue Cross, and twenty years of support from the Suzanne F. Roberts Cultural Fund, among others. Ruddy received an endowed fund—the Martha LaVallee-Williams Community Outreach Fund for her Company’s work with their youth engagement program. To re-open the Performance Garage after the pandemic most essential were the Shuttered Venue Grant, and the Covid Relief Fund.

Connect with Jeanne Ruddy

Jeanne Ruddy Dance

Performance Garage


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

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

O my soul (Montclair, NJ)

By Events

The Moving Architects
presents O my soul

December 1, 2023, 7.30pm
Montclair Women’s Club
82 Union Street Montclair, NJ 07042
Parking lot and street parking available

Post-show discussion with the artists will follow the performance. Wine and beverages will be available by donation before and after the show

Tickets: $20-$25 HERE
Tickets: $30 at the door cash/check/credit
Special Ticket: $50-$55
Includes Ticket and Limited Print by gwen charles. Collaged fabric works are featured in ‘O my soul’ and proceeds benefit The Moving Architects. See Print image in carousel below. Print will be available at the Box Office.

Where fierce femininity and intergenerational dance meet: ‘O my soul’

O My Soul is a vigorous dance project weaving together an intergenerational cast of feminine bodies with a lifetime of raw and real sensations, grounded in the company’s signature aesthetic of strong and fiercely feminine dance. The 1-hour dance work interconnects compelling solos, duets, and dynamic group performances with intriguing interactive props and memorable sound scores. The title of the project, O my soul, echoes a biblical phrase often sought in times of trial. Step into a captivating journey through the raw and profound emotions of a lifetime with O my soul, a one-of-a-kind dance project featuring a diverse cast of women aged 16-70’s.

After two years of artistic culmination, O my soul emerges as the company’s first ever full-length evening performance in Montclair, NJ, home of Artistic Director Norton since 2013.

Made possible by funds from the Essex County Division of Cultural Affairs, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

O my soul artists
Artistic Director: Erin Carlisle Norton
Visual Artist: gwen Charles 
Violinist: Grace Liu Anderson
Company Dancers: Mariah Anton-Arters, Emily Cicio, Kelly Guerrero 
Guest Dancers: Hannah Liu Anderson, Meg Regan, Barbara Whitehill
Dance Film: Created/Edited/Performed: Erin Carlisle Norton

photo: Whitney Browne Photography featuring collaged fabric works by gwen charles

Movers & Shapers: Rukhmani Mehta

By Podcast

PODCAST 166: Rukhmani Mehta 

Release Date: 10.30.23


    • Apple: Subscribe, Listen, Rate Us HERE

    • Spotify: Follow and Listen HERE

    • Any Smartphone Podcast app: Subscribe and Listen

Creating a Vision for Kathak with Rukhmani Mehta

Episode 166: Show Notes

Today on Movers & Shapers, we are joined by Rukhmani Mehta (previously Rina Mehta). Rukhmani is a choreographer, dancer, educator, Artistic Director of Leela Youth Dance Company, and the Co-Artistic Director of Leela Dance Collective, which brings together leading artists from around the world to advance a collective vision for kathak, a classical North Indian dance. In this episode, Rukhmani speaks about her love for creating community through dance and her deep interest in and curiosity for collaborative projects and processes. What stands out most is Rukhmani’s resounding passion for her work and art form, despite the struggles she has had along the way, as well as the thoughtfulness with which she has built her life in dance, from co-leadership of her company to teaching to creating the first-ever endowment to support kathak dance and music in the US and more. Tune in today for an inspiring conversation about the power of collaboration, community, and preserving culture!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • How Rukhmani started dancing and when she fell in love with kathak.
  • What she learned about the art form from kathak master, Pt. Chitresh Das.
  • The profoundly transformational experience that studying kathak afforded her.
  • How she learned to follow her heart and commit to starting a professional dance company.
  • Steps Rukhmani took to build a life in dance, including teaching and the Leela Foundation.
  • Audience development and creating a future for kathak as an educator.
  • Unpacking Rukhmani’s belief in the power of collaboration.
  • Where the name Leela comes from and how it speaks to spontaneous creativity.
  • Insight into Rukhmani’s love for creating communities of young women through dance.
  • The process of building Leela as a collective and how it was impacted by COVID.
  • Joys and challenges of a dance career and what you can look forward to from Leela!
  • The heartwarming story of why Rukhmani changed her name from Rina.

“My work is about being an artist and putting the art form out in the world but – it has also become about creating the infrastructure that the artists who are carrying these traditions forward need.” — Rukhmani Mehta

About Rukhmani Mehta

Rukhmani Mehta (previously Rina Mehta) –pronounced RUUKH-muh-nee – brings a singular voice and vision to the art form of kathak, classical dance of North India. She is a senior disciple of the legendary kathak master, Pt. Chitresh Das, and was a principal dancer in his company, the Chitresh Das Dance Company, for over a decade. As Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Leela Dance Collective, Mehta has created numerous original works that bring kathak dance to contemporary audiences. These works include SPEAK, a kathak-tap collaboration; Son of the Wind, a dance drama based on India’s epic, the Ramayana; and Encounters with Beauty, a collaboration between kathak and contemporary chamber music. She has performed at prestigious venues across the United States and India such as NC State Live, The Broad Stage, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Green Music Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, National Centre for Performing Arts Mumbai, and more. Her artistic works have been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, California Arts Council, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, and more. She has received the ACTA Apprenticeship Grant and has been twice nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award. Mehta is also Artistic Director of Leela Youth Dance Company, a pre-professional performing group that empowers young women to develop their voices and be artists and leaders. The Leela Youth Dance Company has been featured at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Youth Festival, and LA County’s Annual Televised Holiday Celebration.


Connect with Samantha Géracht

Leela Dance

Leela Dance Collective on Instagram

Leela Dance Collective on Facebook


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:


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

Movers & Shapers: Samantha Géracht

By Podcast

PODCAST 165: Samantha Géracht

Release Date: 10.16.23


    • Apple: Subscribe, Listen, Rate Us HERE

    • Spotify: Follow and Listen HERE

    • Any Smartphone Podcast app: Subscribe and Listen

Continuing a Modern Dance Legacy with Samantha Géracht

Episode 165: Show Notes.

There are many legends in modern dance that are responsible for making the art form what it is today. But how do we continue their legacy? Today we hear from one of the people responsible for continuing the legacy of Anna Sokolow, Samantha Géracht. Samantha is the artistic director at the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble and in this episode, she tells us all about her incredible career, the multitude of amazing dance practitioners she has learned from and worked with, the difference between a Sokolow dancer and a Sokolow director, the challenges she faces in continuing Anna’s legacy, and so much more! From ballet to modern dance, Samantha has experienced it all as student, performer, and teacher. You don’t want to miss this one so tune in now!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Introducing today’s guest, Samantha Géracht.
  • Samantha tells us about her upbringing and what made her interested in dancing. 
  • What made her switch from ballet to modern dance and breaking the stigma about modern. 
  • Samantha shares her experience at the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab and who taught her.
  • Samantha’s early marriage and family life. 
  • Joining the Sokolow company and the teaching jobs she had while she was a dancer. 
  • Becoming a Sokolow artistic director and how it differed from being a Sokolow dancer. 
  • The legacy that Anna Sokolow left and Samantha’s special Sokolow choreography. 
  • Samantha shares the biggest struggles and challenges throughout her career. 
  • The support system Samantha has to help her continue Anna’s legacy. 
  • Some of the highlights of Samantha’s career and what she’s working on now. 
  • Where she sees the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble in the future. 

“Being a dancer and a modernist in an era that’s not that interested in modernism is it’s own struggle…..[I’m] giving myself a voice and figuring out what it is I want to do with Anna’s legacy and what that means.”” — Samantha Géracht


About Samantha Géracht

Samantha Géracht, MFA (Artistic Director) performed with Anna Sokolow’s Players’ Project for eleven years and is a founding member of the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble. In 2017 Ms. Géracht was appointed the ensemble’s artistic director. She has toured and taught Sokolow’s repertory nationally and internationally, setting Ms. Sokolow’s works on professional companies, university dance programs, and solo dance artists, including the Centre de Danse Nationale de Paris, the Boston Conservatory, Williams College, The Ailey School/Fordham University, Loyola Chicago, Franklin and Marshall College, Barnard College, Clarence Brooks, Jennifer Conely, Sandra Kaufman, Kanopy Dance Company and Academy, and Christine Dakin.

Ms. Géracht studied technique and composition with Alwin Nikolais and Murry Louis, Humphrey/Limon with Jim May, Betty Jones, Fritz Luden, and Gail Corbin, and Weidman with Deborah Carr. She has taught in the Professional Studies program at the Limon Institute, the Herbert Berghoff (‘HB’) Studio, and is on the faculty of the Hoboken Charter School. Ms. Geracht performed the Humphrey/Weidman repertory with Deborah Carr Theater Dance Ensemble and Gail Corbin. She has appeared with Rae Ballard’s Thoughts in Motion, and as a guest artist with David Parker and The Bang Group. In 2016 she choreographed Shadowbox Theatre’s The Earth and Me, a critically acclaimed climate change puppet/dance opera created for NYC public schools and community centers. Ms. Géracht served as a panelist for the Library of Congress opening of the “New Dance Group” archives. She holds an MFA in dance from Montclair State University (NJ) and a BS in dance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ms. Géracht is committed to the preservation of early American Modern Dance, making the works of modern dance pioneers more accessible to dance education programs, young artists, and new audiences.


Connect with Samantha Géracht

Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble

In the Eye of a Dream, November 9-19, 2023 @ Theaterlab


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:


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

Pentacle Presents: Fall Further XII (NYC)

By Events No Comments

Pentacle Presents: Fall Further XII (NYC)
Friday, November 17, 2023 at 7.30pm

Dixon Place
161A Chrystie Street
New York, NY 10002

Pentacle’s twelfth year of Fall Further presents an evening of dance at New York City’s renowned Dixon Place.  Presenting artists are Sonia Plumb Dance, Claire Porter, Milk Leaf Productions, Freespace Dance, and The Moving Architects.


Seoul Dance Film Festival (Seoul, South Korea)

By Events

Seoul Dance Film Festival
November 4, 2023 / 12pm

Seoul Dance Film Festival
Art Nine
Seoul, South Korea

More info on Art Nine: HERE
More info on Seoul Dance Film Festival: HERE

Program includes “O my soul” created/performed by Erin Carlisle Norton of The Moving Architects.
photo: Erin Carlisle Norton in “O my soul”

Movers & Shapers: Alyssa Alpine

By Podcast

PODCAST 164: Alyssa Alpine

Release Date: 10.2.23


    • Apple: Subscribe, Listen, Rate Us HERE

    • Spotify: Follow and Listen HERE

    • Any Smartphone Podcast app: Subscribe and Listen


Translating Vision into Action with Alyssa Alpine

Episode 164: Show Notes.

Whether it’s for communication, social media, budgets, scheduling, or meetings (and more!), we can attest to the level of detail, creativity, and make-it-happen-attitude required in the support to make dance happen! The role of the Arts Administration is dedicated to translating vision into action, and with great appreciation and admiration we introduce today’s guest, Alyssa Alpine. Alyssa, with her accompanying drive and passion, is the Founding Director of the CUNY Dance Initiative, a residency program for NYC choreographers on City University of New York (CUNY) college campuses. In our conversation with Alyssa today, we delve into the story of how her love for dance stems from both sides of her family and what has fueled her lifelong commitment. She takes us through her academic path and recounts the story of how she fell into a career as an Arts Administrator. Alyssa elaborates on the functioning of the CUNY Dance Initiative and highlights some of the challenges and peak moments she’s encountered along her career journey. Tune in to this episode to hear more from Alyssa Alpine, a true master of wearing many hats (concurrently!) and doing them all successfully!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • We get to meet Alyssa and explore her passionate journey in the world of dance.
  • She elaborates on her time at Hartford Ballet.
  • Her thoughts on a potential career as a ballerina.
  • She talks about what got her started in dance and what made her stay
  • Alyssa’s perspective on the Midwest and why she’d find it difficult to replicate her current life elsewhere. 
  • We hear about her time at Columbia and her academic path toward a B.A.
  • Hopping from one school program to another and figuring out the dance world. 
  • Alyssa recounts the dream and plan she had had coming out of undergrad. 
  • A quick story about the beginning of her career in arts administration.
  • Her sentiments about living and working in New York.
  • Where she went after the Limon Foundation (and having had enough of the Arts world!)
  • She tells the tale of how she wound up at CUNY, managing the CUNY Dance Initiative. 
  • Her dance journey amidst working and what that looked like for Alyssa.
  • Looking back, Alyssa reflects on the aspect of the journey that has given her the most energy.
  • The strengths and skills she brings to her role as an Arts Administrator.
  • She elaborates on the inner functions (and systems) of the CUNY Dance Initiative.
  • More details regarding the CUNY Dance Initiative program.
  • She highlights some of the challenges she’s had to overcome throughout her career.
  • Alyssa shares some peak moments in her career journey. 
  • What Alyssa is energized for and currently looking forward to.

About Alyssa Alpine

Alyssa Alpine is the founding director of the CUNY Dance Initiative, an expansive residency program that provides rehearsal and performance spaces on City University of New York college campuses to local choreographers and dance companies. She has worked in non-profit administration for 20+ years across areas of programming, marketing, development, and operations for organizations such as New York Live Arts, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, New Jersey City University’s Center for the Arts, and Armitage Gone! Dance, with some forays into arts journalism along the way. As a performer, she cut her teeth with Minnesota Dance Theater, The Hartt Ensemble, and the Connecticut Opera before moving to NYC, where she’s worked with Geraldine Cardiel, Alan Danielson, Patricia Hoffbauer, Yehuda Hyman/Mystical Feet, Stephan Koplowitz, Jonathan Monk, and RedWall Dance Theatre. She holds a BA in English from Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Connect with Alyssa Alpine

CUNY Dance Initiative 

CDI on Instagram

Alyssa on LinkedIn


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The CUNY Dance Initiative

Fred Astaire

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Martha Graham Dance Company

Peggy Lyman

Hartford Ballet

Paul Taylor Dance Company

Dance New Amsterdam

Jose Limon Dance Foundation

Celebrate Mexico Now Festival

New York Live Arts

Queens College (CUNY)

Geraldine Cardiel

Patricia Hoffbauer

Yvonne Rainer


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

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

Shapes of Movement (Lummi Island, WA)

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Shapes of Movement with Rena Priest on Lummi Island (WA)
September 18-25, 2023

Public Sharing:
Sunday, September 24th 1PM
Sunset Beach, Lummi Island, WA
(Use The Willows Parking lot)
2579 West Shore Dr, Lummi Island, WA 98262

Taking place on the shoreline of the Salish Sea, we are honored to partner with WA State Poet Laureate Rena Priest, member of the Lummi Nation who will contribute spoken word to the work. Shapes of Movement is a multi-year project that explores our interdependent relationship with Nature through choreography, sculpture, and weaving. With an installation made up of a modular metal structure and compositions of handwoven textiles, two dancers activate the space within and around the structure creating relationships between each other, the weavings, and Nature.

Partnerships are key at every site, both in the Arts as well as in other disciplines to deepen our connection to Place and Nature. Earth Law Center (ELC), international leader in the Rights of Nature Movement will share video documentation of our Lummi Island project on their website.

Our time in Lummi Island includes research, workshopping, and performance Sharings with students from a local school and the general public.

Our team includes Erin Carlisle Norton, NYC/NJ-based choreographer and Artistic Director of  The Moving Architects; company dancers Kelly Guerrero, NJ and Emily Cicio, NYC; Crystal Gregory, sculptor and Associate Professor of Fiber Arts at University of Kentucky; Kathy Imlay, bi-coastal Curator and Producer; gwen charles, NYC/NJ-based multimedia artist
and arts educator.

photo: Shapes of Movement at {re}HAPPENING at Black Mountain College, NC in April 2023.