Creative Aging Directory - The MetLife Foundation's Healthy Living Initiative at Dance Exchange

Program Title
The MetLife Foundation's Healthy Living Initiative at Dance Exchange
Program Summary

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 Background and 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-Specific Research and Key Findings
Program-Specific Assessment and Evaluation

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

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City (Main)
Takoma Park
State (Main)
Phone-Phone (Main)
Facebook Link
Twitter Link
Arts Discipline
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
Kinds of Creative Engagement/Program Focus Other
Interdisciplinary Connections
Creative engagement
Target Audience
Active Adults, Caregivers - Family, Caregivers - Professional, Frail Older Adults, Intergenerational, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design
Adaptive Program Design Other
Program Setting
Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center), Arts Organization, Community Center
Program Service Area / Geography
Suburban, Urban
Program Service Area / Geography Other