The MetLife Foundation's Healthy Living Initiative at Dance Exchange

Organization Associated with Program
The MetLife Foundation's Healthy Living Initiative at Dance Exchange
7117 Maple Avenue
Takoma Park, Maryland 20912

Since 1976, Dance Exchange of Washington D.C. has been dancing with people of all ages in community and healthcare settings. Dance is an efficient and cost-effective path to wellness for individuals and communities. Drawing on its rich history and the generous support of the MetLife Foundation, Dance Exchange has concentrated the work of its Healthy Living Initiative in two main areas:
Arts in healthcare:

  • Conducting artistic work with people in healthcare settings using a multi-disciplinary approach to art that combines movement, verbal expression, creative challenge, and collaboration. Dance Exchange utilizes its methods with a variety of people, including those with Huntington’s disease, brain injury, memory loss, addiction, chronic mental illness, and mobility issues.
  • Hosting training for artists, health professionals, and caregivers. Dance Exchange uses experiential activities, model teaching, and new frameworks to help participants explore the ways in which dance and art-making can enhance the effects of therapeutic work and re-energize relationships with patients, family members, and the self.
  • Inspiring the creation and performance of new works through Dance Exchange’s intergenerational Healthy Living Commissions, which provide research vehicles for dancers and offers fresh insights and experiences in healthcare, conference, and stage settings.

Creative aging:

  • Conducting workshops, intensives, and institutes for new and experienced dancers over 50, giving them the chance to engage in dance that is artistically rigorous and adaptable to different bodies.
  • Across the U.S. and abroad, Dance Exchange uses its highly respected creative practices to connect older and younger members of a community together through the exploration of important life themes in workshops and residencies.
Program History

The mission of Dance Exchange is to create dances that arise from asking: Who gets to dance? Where is the dance happening? What is it about? Why does it matter? Dance Exchange breaks boundaries between stage and audience, theater and community, movement and language, tradition and the unexplored. Founded in 1976 by Liz Lerman and now under the artistic direction of Cassie Meador, Dance Exchange stretches the range of contemporary dance through explosive dancing, personal stories, humor, and a company of performers whose ages span six decades. The work consists of concerts, interactive performances, community residencies, and professional training in community-based dance. Dance Exchange employs a collaborative approach to dance making and administration. Recent and current projects include explorations of coal mining, genetic research, human rights, particle physics, ecology, land use, and rest in a hyper-driven society.

Program Assessments and Evaluations

Programs are evaluated through the use of surveys, interviews, and attendance numbers. Evaluations are used to plan future programming.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

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Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Presenting a Performance, Attending a Performance, Participate in a Class, Participate in a Workshop, Watch a Lecture/Demonstration
Arts Discipline: Dance
Target Audience: Active Adults, Caregivers - Family, Caregivers - Professional, Frail Older Adults, Intergenerational, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Program Setting: Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center), Arts Organization, Community Center
Program Service Area: Suburban, Urban
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice