The Dance Exchange records are the administrative, programmatic, performance, press, and visual records of the company (formerly known as the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange), its members, and its related groups. Dance Exchange, based in the Washington, D.C./Montgomery County, Maryland area, was founded by Liz Lerman in 1976. 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 Dance Exchange.
The collection is open for research use. Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room during SCPA’s operating hours. Please contact the curator for an appointment or if you have questions related to digital access of the materials.
Copyright was not transferred to the University of Maryland with the gift of any copyrighted materials. All rights remain with the creators and rights holders. The University of Maryland Libraries is granted permission for the use in scholarly research by the Libraries’ patrons under fair use in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act.
To inquire about duplication of materials for research or for publication, please contact SCPA’s curator.
129.50 Linear Feet
The Dance Exchange records cover the period from 1964 to 2022; 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 Dance Exchange.
Liz Lerman, a choreographer, performer, writer, educator, and speaker, founded the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976. The company, now known as Dance Exchange, 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. 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 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, 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. 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.).
This collection is organized into seven series.
This collection contains audiovisual materials. Digital copies must be used. If no copy exists, one must be made prior to use. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit.
Dance Exchange (then known as Liz Lerman Dance Exchange) donated its archival materials to Special Collections in Performing Arts in 2005. Accruals are ongoing, the most recent occurring in December 2022.
More than 1,100 video recordings from this collection have been digitized and can be viewed in UMD's Digital Collections website for digital audiovisual content.
Select playbills have been digitized and can be viewed in UMD's Digital Collections website.
Materials are arranged chronologically to reflect the evolution of Dance Exchange, as well as to allow for collection growth.
Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library