Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Highlight: Dance Place and Founder/Director Carla Perlo

By Helen Gineris

Dance/Metro DC sat down with Carla Perlo Founder and Director of Dance Place, a community icon with 30 years of success as a nationally recognized dance presenter, professional school for dance, and center for innovative youth programs. In addition to a mix of modern and cultural dance offerings during Dance Is The Answer, Dance Place participates in the festival’s theme Art That Moves on Tuesday, April 19 when six chosen dancers and their six invited dance partners are challenged to create a site-specific improvisational dance piece based on unknown hidden treasures in a traveling Box O’Art. Perlo shares her excitement, calling the activity a “double entendre thinking out of the box and around the box,” which she points out as a strength of the dance community, describing dancers as creative, flexible, and determined to dance no matter what is thrown at them whether it be a national disaster, a tight budget, or inclement weather.

Dance/Metro DC asked Perlo what the phrase “Dance Is The Answer” means to her. “I think people tend to categorize dance,” as what they see on television or their perception of their own capacity for movement, but "Dance," Perlo says, “is really the answer to a lot of things that are troubling our society” that manifest as stress, a sense of isolation, poor body-image and poor health. Perlo sees dance as a way to solve these problems swearing dance is “the secret” that has kept her healthy, without the aches and pains of age, and much fitter than her counterparts equal in years. She matter-of-factly attributes her lack of depression, absence of medications and isolation to being involved in the dance community and Dance Place.

Continuing, Perlo adds dance is also the answer to education and socialization - a tool for teaching language arts, math, and life skills including collaboration, positive social interaction, self-confidence, discipline, problem-solving, and compromise. She states emphatically, “Show me a child who’s performed in front of a group and I’ll show you a kid who does better on a college interview... a job interview.” Lastly, she adds in response to Dance Place’s partnership with developer Artspace USA, that dance is the answer and a tool for attracting community and real estate development. The partnership will result in a much-anticipated July grand opening of the Brookland Artspace Lofts where Dance Place will occupy three of the 41 loft spaces and together the two organizations will collaborate on a joint plaza with Dance Place driving the programming. “[Dance is] an economic engine. Anywhere the arts are, eventually people follow.”

Dance Is The Answer enthusiasts can also look forward to weekend performances at Dance Place through May 2. Those unable to attend Deborah Riley Dance Projects’ reincarnation of Chew on This last weekend missed out on a delightful exploration of our relationship to food. Make sure to catch New York’s Wally Cardona’s Intervention #7: Silas Grant on April 23 and Lyena Strelkoff’s Caterpillar Soup from her Words That Move Us Series running April 20 – May 1. Perlo describes Strelkoff as an “amazing person with an amazing story,” a quadriplegic who recently gave birth to her first child who reveals her life before her spinal cord injury, after her injury, and the challenge in finding movement within.

Dance Place is located at 3225 8th St., NE, Washington, DC. The nearest Metro is Brookland-CUA (Red Line). For discounted rates on classes through May 2, mention Dance Is The Answer.

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