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 engage participants in the creative processes of movement and dance-making, but 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:
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.
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.
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 participants of all ages at The Brearley School, Oberlin College, Greenwich Academy, Black Girls Rock!, Washington University in St. Louis, Roland Park Country School and many more.
Professional Development is honored through three distinct offerings:
Training for SLMDances Creative Partners
We offer a structured module that assists 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.
Public Professional Development Workshops
SLMDances first opened its Professional Development practice to the public in the summer of 2018. PD for the People! invites 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. We are piloting our online course Fall 2020.
One-on-One Coaching with Sydnie
Sydnie offers one-on-one Dream Weaving sessions, giving time + priority to Black women and femmes. These sessions hold space for you to dream, make plans, and design accountability measures. It is also an opportunity to "pick her brain" about her experiences working in art and culture, mothering a dance collective, or ask for advice. Contact for further info.
[This experience is] full of learning opportunities, challenge, joy, warmth, resources...
If you need inspiration, energy and ideas to get your path together and thriving, this is the intensive to take."
2018 PD for the People! Participant
It was so impressive to see how succinctly you navigated these topics in ways that were digestible, grounded by your personal experiences, and yet still so expansively applicable. I really appreciated your down-to-earth, candid and thoughtful responses to all the questions in ways that broadened the conversation."
University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance
on Making Community Engaged Art Talk
I just wanted to say that that workshop changed my life! I still keep pondering over I see you, I support you, I lift you up. Those exercises made me look deeper into myself. I also thoroughly enjoyed the "what I have" section. Being in that workshop helped me see me.
BodyBusiness Resource Sharing Workshop Participant
Being able to learn a repertory piece from [SLMDances] and rehearse it intensively was also an invaluable opportunity. It gave me hope and confidence that I can apply to whatever ways that I may choose to pursue dance in the future. More than that, it gave me an experience that I will remember physically, mentally, and emotionally, and that I will refer back to with credit to Sydnie when creating or participating in dance pieces in the future, especially community-engaged dance pieces that make a positive impact on the world. I cannot thank Sydnie enough for the time, energy, care, and technical guidance she gave us during this week, and for the insight she gave us into her creative processes.
Oberlin College Dance Major