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In over 20 years of creating dance, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange has pioneered new applications for artmaking and community-based art. Central to these efforts has been the development, use, and sharing of a battery of techniques and methods they call "tools."

These tools represent unique, eminently transferable elements of dance creation, audience development, and lifelong learning. Their applications span the range from K-12 art-in-education to advanced training for professional dancers to community-based learning for senior adults. Core to the Dance Exchange's educational mission, they reflect dynamic interaction with hundreds of artists and thousands of people in the community.

A vital question in assessing the impact of the Dance Exchange's residency work -- one that echoes among fellow artists, presenters, community partners and funders -- is that of sustainability. Once a residency is over and the Dance Exchange returns home, what is left behind?

In response to this need, the Dance Exchange is collecting, documenting and organizing its tools into a modular system that can be augmented, updated, and renewed on a regular basis by local practitioners. Designed for use within a variety of disciplines and artistic styles, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange Tool Box is scheduled for publication in late 2002. It is the first phase of a project that will eventually include an interactive CD ROM. The published version will feature:

  • Modular Format: Each tool is encapsulated in its own modular card or folder. These modules can be distributed singly, in groups arranged to particular settings or tasks, and/or as a full or task-specific set housed in a box, shell or ringed binder.
  • Uniform Organization: Information within the sheets is organized according to a series of uniform headings: Activity, Applications, and Footnotes.
  • Cross Referencing: "Tandem Tools" -- other tools in the system that work in concert with the tool featured in the module -- are tagged on each sheet's margin space for easy cross reference.
  • Documentary Evidence: Additional features positioned in the margins of each sheet augment the instructional information with wisdom gleaned from past experience.

For more information, contact John Borstel, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange Tool Box Project Coordinator,

TOOLbox Excerpt: "Spontaneous Gesture"