38 Artist Participants and 6 Creative Team members converged at the Exchange Choreography Festival to perform, dialogue and exchange ideas about dance. Much of the richness of the festival came from the discussion and interactions of the participants themselves. This included local and traveling artists, alike, that presented performance work and discussed the ways of making work and inherent problems within the field, audiences engaging in the feedback process and new collaborations initiated over the creative weekend.
There were many reactions and feedback from the audience collected, but here are just a few of the comments about the work that happened on the Exchange stage:
What audiences had to say….
The 4th Position dance work made me think of total freedom and play; like a child given a box of art or found objects and instructed to ‘go make something.’ Radiating design and movement! So mysterious and intriguing.
Until Home’s movement made my eyes tear. I can see how people interact in real life through the metaphor of how these trees grow and move. The partner and group work was interesting and kind innovative. The unity was comforting.
I thought of loss, longing, numbness, physical tension and release, connection, being held, pushing off. It was like a meditation on the difficult and trying paths we are given and choose.
2043: YOU was idiosyncratic, funny, honest!
Echo was very beautiful and inspirational. It gave me a feeling of hope that we humans are creatures bounded together in one flesh. We are instruments of love who have the power to make each other stronger, better, and more beautiful.
Inquietude effectively explored textures and ideas that I have never seen before in dance.
Equally as important were the experiences of the artists themselves as they invested in the festival weekend.
What presenting artists had to say…
“I really enjoyed your festival and it was really peaceful, well organized and supportive. It was great that we can share our bio and professional pictures through festival website and for me, it pushed me [to be] more professional in my rehearsal process and performance as well. Also, making promo video was great experience and I like how you incorporate showing promo video and performance together. It was such an honored to take Susan Rethorst workshop right after our performance. It might be great if we can have a conversation time with audience or get some feedback from guest artist and from other choreographers as well. Thank you so much for giving me a great opportunity and sharing wonderful time. I really want to join again and introduce this festival to other emerging artist too.”
~ Yeajean Choi, “Best of the Fest” Recipient
“When I moved back to Oklahoma three years ago, I was worried there would be nowhere to dance the way I wanted to. But within a week or two of being back home, I was doing X phrases in a gorgeous studio (Flyloft) with Tulsa Modern Movement, a company I have been blessed to dance with for three, going on four, seasons. There is whole dance community in Tulsa, making working, taking risks, collaborating with other artists, and sharing their thing. This weekend, Exchange Choreography Festival brings the Tulsa dance community together with choreographers from across the country to perform, discuss, witness, and learn. I'm excited to be a part of it and thankful to all who have worked hard to make it happen. Big shout out to Rachel Bruce Johnson who is putting this together and to Ari Christopher and Mona Hatter for dancing with me!”
~ Aleks Weaver, 2016
"Thank you for bringing us together for the love of dance!"
~ Jen Alden, Artistic Director, Portico Dans Theatre
“Highlight of my week right here. Some of the parent facilitators in our new learning community took the kids on their very first field trip today to see some other of the parent facilitators (myself and Deena Burks) perform at the Exchange Choreography Festival at Tulsa Ballet! Life is rich. So grateful for all of you and who make it that way.”
~ Alicia Chesser
The process films were a great concept and helpful in generating solid ideas about the ways artists had made their work and a visual way to connect the audience to the art-making. Many audience members gave positive feedback about viewing the films in the Gala Performance. We would love to expand this concept further by potentially looping all the artists’ films in the lobby or using them some other way in screening at another point in the year.
Several artists were made offers for subsequent work in the future having had the opportunity to share their work in performance. Connections made artist-to-artist yielded new collaborative possibilities between artists who don’t live near each other.
These are the more evident moments through which Exchange has generated more ideas, collaborations and connections for artists beyond the festival. But we also know that seemingly smaller but equally significant connections are possible and were made between the ideas and movement performed, the questions asked in the choreography workshop, the passionate discussion about serious problems in the field, and the human connections made when artists move and people witness.
These are the moments for which Exchange exists: to stimulate ideas through which creativity is generative, work is propelled and connections beget further connections.
It is the connective power of relationships between people that makes art worth engaging. Our deepest desire is that EXCHANGE serves the existing and growing dance community in professional development and in the very special ways that art can enhance human thriving. The idea that fuels EXCHANGE Festival, is to create space for that population of artists to create a community of interchange in the realm of ideas, processes, and the people themselves.
We are grateful for this work, grateful that artists would come spend time at The Bell House and grateful for the very relationships so generously offered by time spent together. See you next year.
Rachel Johnson, Executive & Artistic Director
photo by Nathan Harmon; dancers: Jessica Vokoun & Rachel Bruce Johnson.
PC: Jeanne S. Mam-Luft
It is a simple philosophy here at THE BELL HOUSE; make connections by bringing people together through dance. Art that seeks to defy a fractured view of the world by creating culture that cares for the soul and is concerned with human thriving. For me, it isn’t enough to just make dance for dance’s sake; it is my belief that it is the connective power of people that makes art worth engaging. We do that by taking our interests and talents and challenging the ways we connect them to something tangible in the human experience. It is through these connections and tangibilities that we see the true power of art and dance manifest back to relationships with and through people. In my view, what matters is people; the time and space of making work refract and overlap revealing and creating new possibilities for human connection.