Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District

Creative Placemaking Initiative Takes Site-Specific Dance into Hyattsville, MD

Art Lives Here celebrates Maida Withers and the Dance Construction Company’s pivotal role in the 1970s dance revolution that became known as site-specific work.

Four On The Wall

Photo Courtesy of Maida Withers Dance Construction Company

On September 20th at 8:30 pm Maida Withers Dance Construction Company will be joined by electronic musician/composer Steve Hilmy in the new location for Gateway Arts District arts organization, Art Works Now at 4800 Rhode Island Ave in Hyattsville, MD. Lighting will be designed by Enoch Chan of Deviated Theater. Withers, a pioneer and innovator of site-specific work in the world of dance, proposed a concept to the Art Lives Here partners back in January that would engage audiences with the question, “does art live here?” and “what does it mean if art lives here?” The piece, entitled “Trans Action” allows the audience to decide if “art” (two female dancers) can survive the onslaught of eight dancers in business suits attempting to dominate and suppress her. Withers asks, “join us to get down and get dirty and help make art happen…a plan to keep art alive!” “The intimacy of participation by the audience in a site location seems to forever change the artist and the audience view of the space and feeling about art, dance in this case. It can be liberating for all when dance happens in places other than the formal stage.” (Maida Withers)

Photo Courtesy of Maida Withers Dance Construction Company

Photo Courtesy of Maida Withers Dance Construction Company

Art Works Now Executive Director Barbara Johnson and Joe’s Movement Emporium Executive Director Brooke Kidd met with Withers to discuss the potential for a creative placemaking occurrence. By breaking the boundaries of space, movement, and classic passive role of the audience, Withers hopes to change the sense of space.

Photo Courtesy of Maida Withers Dance Construction Company

Photo Courtesy of Maida Withers Dance Construction Company

Prior to the performance, Withers will present a free discussion and film presentation September 17th at 7:30 pm at Joe’s Movement Emporium entitled “On Site / Insight”. Withers will give context to the role and place of space in the creation and performance of dance for “live audiences” with examples of site events such as Wet and Wonderful in Washington, DC on the National Plaza (Western Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue); Sunday Maneuvers at Theodore Roosevelt Island National Park, DC; LENIN, Lenin Museum, Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia; Seeing JAZZ MOVE, Smithsonian International Gallery exhibition, Seeing JAZZ.

These two events are a part of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Maida Withers Dance Construction Company in 1974 in Washington, DC. The event is made possible by funding from Art Lives Here via Joe’s Movement Emporium.

About neenajoe

Joe’s Movement Emporium is a cultural arts hub that acts as a catalyst for creativity and economic opportunity for all through productions and programs in education, artist services and work readiness. Located in the town center of Mount Rainier, Maryland within the Prince George’s County Gateway Arts District, the organization supports and promotes creative projects of local artists and community groups. For additional information on programs and events, please visit

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