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Liz Lerman Dance Exchange records

 Collection 0011-SCPA
The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange records are the administrative, programmatic, performance, press, and visual records of the company, its members, and its related groups. Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, based in the D.C./Montgomery County, Maryland area, was founded by Liz Lerman in 1976. Liz Lerman Dance Exchange pursues a broad definition of dance as a multi-disciplinary art form that encompasses movement, music, imagery, and the spoken word. The collection consists of the administrative materials of correspondence, reports, meeting materials, pamphlets, notes, publications, and statistics; the production materials of photographs, playbills, flyers, press kits, and contextual information; memorabilia; and video and audio cassettes, all of which relate to the activities and functions of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.

Dates

  • 1964-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1979-2007

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment: http://www.lib.umd.edu/scpa/contact

Extent

129.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange records cover the period from 1964 to 2005; the bulk dates of the materials date from 1979 to 2002. The records consist of the administrative materials of correspondence, reports, meeting materials, pamphlets, notes, publications, and statistics; the production materials of photographs, playbills, flyers, press kits, and contextual information; memorabilia; and video and audio cassettes, all of which relate to the activities and functions of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.

Administrative History

Liz Lerman, a choreographer, performer, writer, educator, and speaker, founded the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976. The company has produced over 100 innovative dance/theatre works and has toured throughout the United States and abroad.

By the mid 1980s, the company was touring extensively, sometimes with the Dancers of the Third Age, an adjunct troupe of older dancers that also performed on its own for many years. On the road, the Dance Exchange combined performance with workshops and professional training, helping to pioneer the community residency as a model for touring engagements by dance companies.

Starting in 1993, with the support of a major grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the company began to build its presence in the Washington, D.C. area with local partnerships, engagement projects for the urban community, intensive movement institutes, and self-produced seasons at the Lansburgh Theater. Liz Lerman Dance Exchange acquired a former U.S. post office in Takoma Park, Maryland, which it renovated into a three-studio complex for rehearsal, educational, and administrative activities. Community support enabled the Dance Exchange to purchase the building in 1999, becoming one of the few contemporary dance companies in the United States to own and operate its own facility.

As a choreographer, Liz Lerman's aesthetic approach spans the range from abstract to personal to political, while her working process emphasizes research, translation among artistic media, and intensive collaboration with dancers and communities. Liz Lerman has cultivated Dance Exchange's unique multi-generational ensemble, with dancers whose ages span six decades, into a leading force in contemporary dance. Lerman has recieved numerous honors, including the American Choreographer Award, the American Jewish Congress "Golda" Award, Washingtonian magazine's 1988 Washingtonian of the Year Award, and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture's Achievement Award. She is also a member of the University of Maryland's Hall of Fame. In 2002 she was named a MacArthur Fellow in recognition of her creative work, receiving a "genius grant" stipend to support her unqiue contributions to modern dance.

Lerman's work has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival, BalletMet, the Kennedy Center, and Harvard University School of Law, to name a few. As a frequent keynote speaker and panelist, Lerman addresses arts, community, and business organizations both nationally and internationally. She is the author of Teaching Dance to Senior Adults (1983) and the co-author of Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process (2003), and has written numerous articles and essays.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Milwaukee, Lerman attended Bennington College and Brandeis University. She received her degrees in dance from the University of Maryland (earning a B.A.) and from the George Washington University (where she earned an M.A.).

Arrangement

This collection is organized into seven series.
  1. Administration
  2. Programs
  3. Performance
  4. Press
  5. Visual Documentation
  6. Memorabilia
  7. Media

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange donated its archival materials to Special Collections in Performing Arts at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, University of Maryland Libraries, in 2005. Accruals are ongoing.

Related Material

The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange website provides up-to-date information about the organization, its personnel, and its current projects.

The Dance Exchange website also features an Online Toolbox, which is "an ongoing, expanding effort to share the body of knowledge developed by Liz Lerman Dance Exchange since its beginnings in 1976." Using the database, visitors can learn about the company's practice, theory, and history; it is particularly geared towards those interested in choreography, or more generally in community building and human interaction.

Processing Information

Materials are arranged chronologically to reflect the evolution of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange as well as to allow for collection growth.
Title
Liz Lerman Dance Exchange records
Status
Completed
Author
Lauren Bené, July 2006; edited by Cassandra N. Berman, August 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States