Art and science may seem to be opposites, but two D.C.-area organizations are working to bridge the perceived gap.
They are Dance Exchange and Lab X, and together they are sponsoring an event later this month that marks their first collaboration. The event, called “A Fresh Taste,” explores an item in life we all consume and have preferences about but may not think about in terms of its larger issues, whether they’re sustainability or social equity.
Liz Lerman founded Dance Exchange in 1976 and has had its home base in Takoma Park for the past two decades.
Dance Exchange, a non-profit arts organization, is committed to dance-making and creative practices that engage individuals and communities of all ages to cultivate a deeper understanding of themselves and their world, and to open up the questions at the heart of their lives, said Elizabeth Johnson, associate artistic director/Partnerships Dance Exchange.
“Dance Exchange creates dances by asking four questions: ‘Who gets to dance? Where is the dance happening? What is it about? Why does it matter?’” she said.
Lab X is a brand-new program of the National Academy of Sciences, which aims to empower individuals, groups and communities to use the sciences to make decisions related to their lives. Participants in Lab X activities, events and programs come together to investigate, discuss and collaborate on impactful, meaningful issues that are supported by evidence from scientific research, said Geoffrey Hunt, Lab X director.
Lab X evolved from the Koshland Science Museum and continues the museum’s mission to “help people use science to solve problems,” he said.
“A Fresh Taste” will combine a participatory performance component with a science-based one.
“Dance Exchange will help facilitate an experience people will have the opportunity to witness performance, dialogue with experts, learn information, and process that information through image, movement and the spoken word,” said Johnson.
Food-themed songs and comedy will be part of the performance component.
The Lab X component features experts in different areas of science – but “not in the traditional sense of speakers with a microphone,” Hunt said. “Instead the experts – not necessarily academic – will lead discussions” to involve the public.
These aren’t the kind of discussions you might expect in a science gathering, he added. “It’s more of a dialogue.”
Among the experts will be someone from DC Hungry Harvest, who will address food waste. In addition to the social-equity issues and sustainability, another topic will be GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms.
“We hope the discussions will give people a different sense of a significant topic, which everyone deals with every day,” Hunt said. “Often, it’s more of a ‘I want to eat this or not,’ or, ‘when I want to eat.’ “We hope the program will teach them that they can actually contribute to these discussions that can make a meaningful impact on our lives.”
The collaboration between Lab X and Dance Exchange came about through a mutual colleague in the cultural program department of the National Academy.
“We got together to brainstorm, not knowing where it might lead,” Hunt said.
Hunt himself will be one of the performers, offering “Science Rap.”
At the end of the evening, after the formal part of the program, participants will face a “creative group challenge” in Johnson’s words.
“This challenge will help us summarize discoveries and collectively and individually design a pathway forward from the rich experience” of the program, she said. “A Fresh Taste” takes place on Friday, Oct. 26, 7:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m., at Dance Exchange, 7117 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park. For more information, visit www.danceexchange.org.