In April 2012 I hiked 60+ miles with several dancers from Dance Exchange, an intergenerational company of artists that creates dance and engages people in making art as part of the How to Lose a Mountain project.
Dance Exchange was founded by MacArthur award-winner Liz Lerman in 1976 and has produced more than 100 innovative dance/theatre works, presented thousands of performances and conducted innumerable community encounters. With these activities, the company has reached communities of every size from Los Angeles, California to Eastport, Maine, from Yamaguchi, Japan to Gdansk, Poland. I have worked with Dance Exchange as guest artist, company manager, production coordinator, and documentarian.
How to Lose a Mountain examines loss and gain, risk and reward, and the distances travelled by our stories, our stuff, and ourselves. One year prior to the piece’s world premiere, Dance Exchange Artistic Director Cassie Meador investigated the resources that power her home by walking from where she lives in Washington, DC to a site of mountaintop removal in West Virginia. Along the way, she and Dance Exchange artists visited power plants, led movement and outdoor education workshops called “Moving Field Guides,” and collected stories from community members in workshops called “500 Miles/500 Stories.” I joined the company for the first 10 days of the hike and took thousands of photographs that contributed to the creation of an evening length work addressing issues of use and reuse, of living in the now and honoring our past, of what we lose when we gain and what we gain when we lose.