Community Dance at Reed

About Us

Mission

Community Dance at Reed aims to bring together members of the Reed College and broader Portland communities through community dance as a mode of dancemaking and social intervention based on the principles of collective creation. Community Dance at Reed welcomes all bodies, with a critical awareness of how race, class, ability, gender, age, and sexuality impact the ways we relate to ourselves and one another in public.

About Community Dance at Reed

Community Dance at Reed began in Spring 2016. As a community project, the program offers weekly creative movement sessions—offered one semester each academic year—that are free and open to the public. Practice sessions employ improvisation based techniques that de-emphasize physical virtuosity, welcome a range of bodies and abilities, and strive to connect movement with salient social and political questions. Across the semester, we collaboratively create a dance work based on social, cultural, and identity-based themes of shared importance to group members and perform in the Dance Department’s biannual concerts.

Community Dance at Reed is also a credit bearing Reed College course. Enrolled students read and discuss the literature on community dance and performance, consider ethical and practice based questions, and critically engage with case studies of community performance projects. Students develop and lead community movement sessions, and co-direct the creation of the dance work with community members for public performance.

As a community project, Community Dance at Reed aims to:

  • Explore dance as a form of civic engagement
  • Collaboratively create and perform a staged dance work based on an annual theme
  • Re-imagine sole authorship and aesthetic values as traditionally defined by concert dance traditions

As a college course, Community Dance at Reed aims to:

  • Generate movement encounters that welcome all participants, regardless of age, training, or physical ability and attend critically to race, class, ability, gender, and sexuality
  • Gain leadership experience in facilitating community dance projects and collaborative creation practices
  • Practice socially committed approaches to dance pedagogy and composition

For a copy of the current course syllabus, please send a request to: communitydance@reed.edu

History

Community Dance at Reed developed out of Assistant Professor Victoria Fortuna’s (fortunav@reed.edu) long-term collaboration with a community dance collective in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dancers for Life (Bailarines Toda la Vida, http://bailarines-tlv.blogspot.com) formed following Argentina’s 2001 economic crisis and found a home in the Grissinopoli breadstick factory, located in a quiet working class neighborhood of the city. In 2002, workers “recuperated” this facility, assuming collective ownership and operational responsibilities after the owners shuttered the factory. Grissinopoli reopened as a hybrid factory and cultural center; this seemingly odd combination was part of a broader alliance between the workers and artists in the post-crisis period. Dancers for Life rehearses weekly at the factory, and dance sessions are open to all participants regardless of dance background and physical ability. Collective creation generates embodied dialogue around labor rights, human rights, and possibilities for intimacy and connection in contemporary urban life. Community Dance at Reed translates and adapts Dancers for Life’s model into the context of Reed’s liberal arts environment and to meet the needs of the Portland community.