SLMDances believes that every human should have the opportunity to cultivate an understanding of their own body as an access point to discovering who they are as a person. When we check in with our individual bodies, we also check in with one another. Make eye contact. Breathe together. This nurtures and creates accountability to the various communities of which we are a part, or are invited into. Our educational programs not only to engage participants in the creative processes of movement and dance-making, but to provide them with the space, time and tools to discuss and explore the themes and methodologies — such as understanding systemic oppression and dance as social activism — that guide SLMDances’ artistic practice.
The SLMDances pedagogy manifests through four core activities: Lecture Demonstrations, Community Workshops, Technique Class and Staging Creative Work, Professional Development. Each of these core activities is an opportunity for peer learning, research, critical thinking and discussion. SLMDances does not position itself as an expert on any topic it tackles, but as a collective that deeply listens and shares what it is continually discovering in each educational setting
SLMDances can also design a residency that combines any of our core activities and could also include staging creative work for both professional and community performances. Our residencies are responsive to the needs of diverse students, curricula and communities. We have also adapted relevant workshop modules to take place digitally, allowing us to continue to facilitate creative spaces amidst a time of global transformation.
Lecture Demonstrations (LecDem) are audience interactive talks that often include a performance and provide an opportunity to dialogue critically about the SLMDances creative process, current repertory and organizational practices.
SLMDances has shared our artistic-activism practices at dozens of high schools, universities and cultural institutions across the U.S., including Amherst College, Creative Capital, Queens Community College, Fourth Arts Block and many others.
Technique Class +
Staging Creative Work
Technique Class pulls together a diverse set of movement practices which cultivate versatility and are grounded in the use of breath and voice, improvisation and personal choices. We encourage dancers to be mindful in their individual technical practice and facilitate exercises that build relationships with their fellow dancers in the space. Sensitive to the particular setting and movers, we facilitate an environment where personal story, ensemble building and collaborative investigation are involved in the movement invention and choreography toward community action.
Master Technique Classes can be provided in a variety of movement styles including modern/contemporary dance, improvisation, somatic practices, West African and other Diasporic dance forms. SLMDances can also stage an iteration of any of its signature creative works — PURPLE, The Window Sex Project, BodyBusiness, CAKE — on middle and high school students, college dancers and adult community members. We have shared our classes and creative work with students of all ages at The Brearley School, Oberlin College, Greenwich Academy, Washington University in St. Louis, Roland Park Country School and many more.
Community Workshops are one way we involve communities at all levels of creative process. Workshops engage the people most affected by the race and gender issues tackled in our work. We facilitate processes of creative problem solving and empower people to trust and use their embodied knowledge. This collaboration between our collective and community elicits a co-creation of performance work that is for us by us.
Since 2011, SLMDances has introduced hundreds of participants to our work through community workshops based on existing and forthcoming company repertory, covering topics such as experiencing freedom and empowerment through movement, resource-sharing, negotiation between artists and institutions and re-envisioning economic practices in the arts.
Professional Development is a structured module created to assist our dancers in achieving their personal goals, dance and non-dance related. This work intentionally develops the leadership skills of our artists who in turn instigate change in their own communities.
SLMDances first opened its Professional Development practice to the public in the summer of 2018. PD for the People! invited artists and community members to experience movement and peer learning with the collective. We continue to offer Professional Development in workplaces and professional gatherings such as the Dance/USA Conference, the Dancing the African Diaspora Conference and the Dance/NYC Symposium.