Not Dancing With the Stars… Dancing for a Cause!

The DC Dance Marathon is a party with a purpose. The 13.1 hour dance event raises money for Metro Area Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. While the event has been workin’ it on college campuses for years, it’s only in its second year in DC, but after raising $37K in 2011, it is back with boogie fever! Taking place on Saturday, November 17th at the FHI 360 Conference Center, the DC Dance Marathon is open to anyone with a passion for dance, no skill required! The event will feature a variety of dance styles, performances, games and activities, as well as stories from the lives impacted by this charitable dance marathon.

I had a chance to speak with Brandon Weathers, head of public relations for the DC Dance Marathon. Brandon chasséd into this role last year and said that while he doesn’t have a professional dance background per se, “If I have to go out there for a good cause and look like I’m having a dry heave, bring it on!”

How do you complete a marathon with dance?

It all comes down to a combination of dance, entertainment and games. We have an opening ceremony and start off letting everyone gather and socialize. Certain hours of the event are dedicated to dance styles. In rave hour, everyone [wears] glow sticks, then we turn the lights off and everybody acts like rave kids. The most important thing is that everyone is dancing however they want, whenever they want, to any kind of music that they want.

Do patients from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals participate?

We bring in patients and patient families, and they come and tell their story. If this is your first time experiencing the dance marathon, you don’t really know what that means until a kid comes up and tells you that Children’s Hospital saved their life from cancer. It adds a sense of personalization to what we’re doing. I’m partying with a purpose here and it really does make a difference in someone’s life.

What do you tell someone who says, “I don’t dance.”?

I tell them that it doesn’t matter if you can’t dance; you’re there for a good cause. We have a variety of things that you can do. If you don’t want to dance but still want to give back, find a team to sponsor, join a committee or pass our information along.

We always tell people, if you have a bad knee, do what you feel most comfortable doing. You’re not here to audition for “Dancing with the Stars.” You’re here to have a good time and help out with the community. It’s something you can be a part of no matter what.

Why is DCDM important to you personally?

When I first started, I didn’t really realize the people I was going to be impacting. It turns out my nephew’s cousin was in their hospital. I didn’t know that what I was doing had a direct impact on somebody I knew.

The Deets


Welcome DC Dance Blogger Lauren Green

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging as often. So you can imagine my excitement when Lauren Green asked to meet with me to talk about contributing to danceDC. It was inspiring to meet a go-getter like Lauren who not only loves dance, but also has an interest in the whole social media thing (you know I love me some Twitter). So please help me in welcoming Lauren by following her @laurlens, e-mailing her leads at and staying tuned to danceDC for her first blog post (also catch her stories on Pink Line Project).

Meet Lauren Green

Lauren Green is a local DC dance blogger and freelance writer. She has written articles for Dance Studio Life, Dance Teacher and The Buffalo Spree magazines. She has also written dance reviews for the Buffalo News. Now emerging in the blog world, Lauren is developing her following in the DC dance scene. She hopes to spread the word about great local dance events, performances, reviews, and educational opportunities with a clever stroke of the keypad.

Making her way in the world of PR and social media marketing, Lauren is currently an intern with Brotman.Winter.Fried Communications in Northern Virginia, where she is expanding her knowledge of events planning and media relations. Lauren has performed with LehrerDance in Buffalo, Undertoe Dance Project and Jessica Taylor in New York City, and Dancin’ Unlimited in the Washington DC Metro Area. Lauren has her BFA in Dance from the University at Buffalo (UB), where she was a member of the Zodiaque Dance Company. Lauren has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC, under the direction of Debbie Allen. She has also trained intensively from Thodos Dance Chicago, the Broadway Theatre Project (2007), Ballet Academy East (NYC), Steps NYC, and Point Park University.

A Note From Lauren

“A love of writing and social media paved the way for my interest in blogging. I found Cecile without difficulty when researching local dance blog artists and am now excited to be contributing to her well-established resource.  Here’s to dancing ahead!” ~LG

A Different Kind of Dance Post

As many of you know, I’ve started a fairly new job at Joy of Motion Dance Center. I was so excited to finally incorporate my passion for dance into my profession, but also nervous that I would view anything related to dance as work. To an extent, I’ve found that to be true. I don’t take as many dance classes and I’ve only been to a few performances since I started in April. I’ve hardly been blogging. I guess my explanation for this would be that I’m looking for balance in my life. I was so used to doing something completely unrelated to dance at my previous jobs that taking a class or watching a performance was a breath of fresh air. Now, it’s just another day at the office.

This may sound like I’m complaining, but it’s quite the opposite. Now that I’m in the swing of things, I can’t imagine why I hadn’t pursued this dream sooner. I can’t imagine why I had settled for a job that paid more, but gave me so much less to look forward to. I don’t know why I was suddenly compelled to write this post (it’s 3am on a Friday night and honestly, I haven’t been drinking!), and I’m sure my friends will make fun of me for writing this, but just had to share. As my former boss Brita told me, “Love what you do and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.” Or maybe that’s a Confucius quote? Keep dancing and dreaming!

Is there a need for professional level dance classes in DC?

After returning to DC from Houston, Christine Stone Martin continuously heard that dancers are looking for professional level classes. She decided to conduct a survey and work to make that happen. It only takes a few minutes to fill out so if you think there is a need for these types of classes please share your feedback. The deadline is Saturday, May 14th!

Dear Dancers,

After talking with many artists in the community, I have found there is a strong need/desire for a professional level class. Several classes have existed here and there; however, attendance is often small and inconsistent. Why is that? While living in Houston this past year I was shocked and excited to find a professional level class existed that was packed every Wed and Friday morning. This can exist in DC! We are a much larger community full of many companies doing great work.

In an effort to find out what you want and need out of a class, I am sending out a survey. Please take 5 minutes to respond. I will send results back to everyone who participates so that we collectively understand what everyone is looking for in a class. Let’s rock this town!!

All the best,
Christine Stone Martin

Getting Personal with EDT Director Helanius J. Wilkins

From Helanius J. Wilkins, Founder & Artistic Director

When I founded EDGEWORKS Dance Theater, I had only a dream and a gut feeling telling me that this was what I needed to do. I planted my feet firmly onto the ground and began the work – the work that would lead to, and is, the journey of EDGEWORKS. Back then I wasn’t so concerned with the future. I was more focused on creating the moments that would give way to building a foundation and shedding light on the possibilities of a future. It is now 10 years later.

Helanius J. WilkinsEDGEWORKS Dance Theater’s success and ability to make a positive impact on communities through dance is the result of dreaming, and also actively doing. From the start, I envisioned an organization with a vision and mission that would extend far beyond dance studios and stage performances. I envisioned an organization that would be built upon the strength of forming solid community bonds, and creating opportunities for collaboration. After experiencing collaborations, and in some cases continuing to, with organizations such as American Dance Institute, Joy of Motion Dance Center, Miriam’s Kitchen, and Us Helping Us as well as with numerous artists and supporters, makes it hard to imagine EDGEWORKS without collaborations.

On the heels of our first gala, RED, HOT & RIOT, I am excited to have an opportunity to celebrate our wonderful accomplishments. I am even more excited to launch a new phase in our journey of collaborating and developing meaningful partnerships to continue the work. This, I believe, is the only way the work can continue – by building community.

I hope you’ll join us for RED, HOT & RIOT, taking place this Thursday, May 5th at Woolly Mammoth Theatre! Join us for a sizzling evening to celebrate 10 strong years while collaborating with us to keep our mission in motion. Click Here for more details and to purchase tickets!

4th Annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University

American University’s Arts Management Program, Emerging Leaders Network and the Emerging Arts Leaders DC sponsored the 4th Annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium yesterday at American University’s Katzen Arts Center. Young professionals who work in the arts came from Boston, Chicago and all the way from Dupont Circle (that’s me!) to discuss issues affecting arts organizations. The event concluded with a keynote address from Rachel Goslins, Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Below is a break down of the panel discussions:

Panel 1: Getting the experience … and the job

American University

The 4th Annual EALS took place at the Katzen Arts Center at AU yesterday.

I have been pursuing a career in the arts for some time now. I’m happy to say that I have finally made that transition! Next week, I’ll be joining Joy of Motion Dance Center as their Marketing and PR Manager. Using social media tools and consistently writing about the topic of dance in DC helped me make the right connections in order to land a job. I also volunteered a lot. These tactics were brought up during the first panel session of the day which included Ann Norris of Gallim Dance, Abel Lopez of GALA Hispanic Theatre, Katy Cupples of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management and the Kennedy Center and Anne L’Ecuyer of Washington Writer’s Retreat.

According to L’Ecuyer, there are three important criteria to consider before applying to arts jobs:

  1. What level of organization do you want to be at – local, state, national?
  2. What size organization do you want to be a part of?
  3. How close to the creative process do you want to be?

Determining the answers to these questions can help narrow your job search and ensure that you are the right fit for the organizations you are applying to. Organizations are vehicles to establish our own personal missions, not the other way around, she added.

Panel 2: Global Connections in Arts Management

British Council Dubai

Sarah Frankland previously worked at the British Council in DC. This is a picture of the one in Dubai, but look how cool it is!

Pennie Ojeda of NEA, Anna Smith of International Arts and Artists, Sarah Frankland formerly of the British Council and Brett Egan of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center discussed issues relevant to the globalized arts community in this panel session. Each panelist had an interesting story to tell about how their life journeys led them to the positions they hold today. Ojeda was a Peace Corps volunteer and later full-time employee.  Smith worked abroad in Amsterdam and Paris. Frankland moved from her native UK and fell in love with the United States. Egan worked with artists in China during the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

According to Egan, the state of the economy is going to make us think more about the impact and outcomes of international engagement. Organizations that value cultural exchange will need more than their mission statement to justify their activities. In order to make your case, Frankland suggests building an evaluation component before the process starts. Establish objectives and determine how you’re going to measure success. First and foremost, however, you need to know your audience, said Ojeda. The more people doing international exchanges – the better, but it has to make sense for the community.

Panel 3: What Makes a Good Arts Leader?

This was by far my favorite panel of the day. Moderator Michael Wilkerson, Assistant Professor of Arts Management at AU, brought the jokes and effectively managed the discussion among Ian David Moss of Fractured Atlas and, Jamie Bennett of NEA, Stephanie Evans Hanson of Americans for the Arts and Michael Bobbitt of Adventure Theatre and the League of Washington Theatres. According to Wilkerson, there are two types of leaders – those who build upon what has come before them and year zero leaders who believe the history of the organization starts the day that they do. Beware of year zero leaders, he cautioned. He also made an interesting point about the hiring process. First rate leaders hire first rate people. They want employees who are smarter and more efficient than they are. Second rate leaders hire third rate people. Why hire someone who knows more than you do? Below are additional thoughts on leadership from the panelists:

  • Stephanie Evans Hanson – It is crucial to be flexible in your career. It is also important to understand how decisions are made and how you can impact those decisions in your organization. It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.
  • Ian David Moss – In the arts, there is a tendency for people to wait until they are told to do something important. Not waiting has served me well. In meetings or conference calls, say what needs to be said. Leading the conversation is an exertion of power. Self education and understanding yourself are also a key way to demonstrate leadership.
  • Michael Bobbitt – Get away from your desk! It’s hard for people to say no to you when you meet with them in person. People do business with people they know so get out there and engage with your community. Art has to marry the commerce. To be successful, make it more than just about the play, exhibit, dance performance. For example, Adventure Theatre worked with Project Linus’ Blanket – an organization that donates blankets to children in need as part of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.
  • Jamie Bennett – Leadership isn’t about where you are in the organizational chart. Every leader is leading from the middle and anyone can make change from anywhere. To be a leader, you need to have vision and you need to understand the mechanics of change. It’s not enough to have an idea, but you also need to be able to translate your vision into action. Learn the language of the organization in order to make the sale.

Keynote Address: Rachel Goslins

Rachel GoslinsIn addition to cleverly working Kevin Spacey movie titles such as The Usual Suspects, American Beauty and Pay It Forward into her speech, Rachel Goslins provided valuable advice to emerging arts leaders.

There are three types of people: arts lovers, arts antagonists and arts agnostics. Engage the lovers, don’t worry about the antagonists and focus instead on the agnostics. This audience is crucial to the future of the arts.

Don’t lose sight of your mission. When it comes to metrics, know what you’re measuring and why. Use these numbers to demonstrate that you are achieving your mission.

Arts education is critical to the future of schools and the future of non-profit arts. Students with access to arts education have been proven to do better academically and are also more likely to attend art related events.

Follow your passion. Take risks and remember it’s a gift to work in an industry that you truly care about.

Dance Place: From Adams Morgan to Brookland

Dance Place

I met with Carlo Perlo, Founder and Executive/Artistic Director of Dance Place, last month to talk about the organization and the Brookland community. I found myself asking a lot of questions about the neighborhood and why they chose to move there from Adams Morgan. I guess living in the Dupont/Logan area got me interested in the topic of gentrification and how it affects local businesses.

From 1980 to 1985, Dance Place rented a space on 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan. According to Perlo, gentrification and quadrupled rent forced the organization to find a new space. If she couldn’t find a permanent location for Dance Place, Perlo said it would have been the end. She wasn’t renting anymore. Luckily, she did secure a Metro-accessible place in the Brookland neighborhood near Catholic University where the organization remains today.

Her other choice for Dance Place was the current location of The Studio Theatre on 14th Street NW. Needless to say, that area went through some dramatic changes of its own since the 1980s. I imagine if they had decided to move to Logan Circle in 1986 that they would be facing a similar situation now. When asked why she chose Brookland over 14th Street, Perlo said it was a safer neighborhood. Perhaps Perlo had a crystal ball to look into the future because Brookland turned out to be the perfect area for the dance organization.

“Low cost housing will stay affordable,” she said about Brookland. “There are efforts to maintain a better balance of citizens from different economic backgrounds.”

She mentioned the Edgewood Terrace housing complex in Northeast DC as an example. And now thanks to Dance Place’s partnership with Artspace, whose mission is to create, foster and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organization, the area will have even more affordable live/work units available to residents.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Brookland Artspace Lofts, an informational meeting is scheduled for Saturday, March 26th from 10am to noon at Source on 14th Street NW. For more information about Dance Place and their programming which Perlo describes as high quality, affordable and innovative, visit their website.

Twitter Tips for Dance Organizations

Earlier this week, Dance Magazine tweeted a link to an article from its February 2008 2011 issue titled “Dancing in the Twittersphere” by Nancy Wozny. Wozny talked about how dancers from So You Think You Can Dance? and dance companies like Houston Ballet have embraced the micro-blogging tool to connect with their communities. The story got me thinking about dance organizations in the DC Metro area; and how even after three years since the article came out, many have yet to effectively utilize this social networking tool.

I am no Twitter expert, but I like to think that I’ve attended enough professional development events, spoke with enough social media enthusiasts and read enough articles to learn a thing or two. If you need some additional reassurance, Klout – the standard for influence – considers me an ‘activist.’ I have a cause I want to share (dance in DC) and my audience counts on me to champion this cause. After thinking about my interactions with and reading the Twitter feeds of various dance organizations, I came up with suggestions on how these groups can improve their social media outreach:

Dance Place1) EngagementMany of the dance organizations I follow on Twitter have never acknowledged my direct messages or mentions. I don’t expect a response to every tweet, but at least answer questions. To improve engagement with followers, listen to what your followers are saying and seek out opportunities to communicate. Use to monitor conversations about your organization and respond with a personal touch. A great example is this tweet from Dance Place.

2) ConsistencyYou don’t have to tweet every hour to be consistent. Decide what works best for your organization and stick with it. There are too many feeds out there that have been created and have no tweets. Or even worse, the last time they tweeted was May 21st, 2010! I’m talking about you, @Velocity_DC (also your background and bio information says 2009!). If you don’t have the resources to manage your feed, get rid of it.

3) Tools – Finally, there are a lot of simple tools out there to help make the most out of your 140 characters. URLs can be long, but there’s to shorten your links. Social media dashboards like Hootsuite also have this function and allow you to schedule tweets in advance so you can focus on other tasks. I also learned about What the Hashtag?! from Amanda Miller Littlejohn and Alex Priest at their DC Power Twitter workshop last August. This site allows you to find out what hashtags have been used so you can create a unique one for your event.

I could go on and on about Twitter, but hopefully this is a good starting point. There are tons of articles and websites that provide Twitter tips, but I really like this list from Chris Brogan. You can also check out the upcoming PR and Social Media Bootcamp: Kicking Up Your Social Media workshop presented by C. Fox Communications and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County Friday, February 25th.

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