PITF: Interview with Dana Vanderburgh -Movement Exchange

Dana Vanderburgh the Executive Director of Movement Exchange also a long time friend of the DMC and Move The World World and am so happy to be interviewed.

Movement Exchange is 501c3 Non-Profit that is based out of the USA and we have university chapters all across US and we have Uran programme in Panama and our mission is to unite dance and service and to provide dance education to particularly youth but communities that don’t typically have access to dance education, so our mission is to both cultivate, civically engage dancers who are active in their communities but also to ensure that dance education is accessible to all, and so we do that through the universities chapters that gives dance classes for free for different organisations that are surrounding their university community so they partner with boys and girls clubs, domestic violence shelters, refugee agency sometimes kids whose parents are incarcerated, some works with adults and nursing homes.

What does it mean to be a Global Citizen?

For Movement Exchange to be a global citizen, it means to recognise that you have the ability within your own self, within your own body and particularly, when you are thinking of dance that you can connect with others, you can build relationships with others, you can make a difference in your community and that you don’t need to have the same background even the same language and that, we have that capacity already within ourselves to be that global citizen, that person who is connective with others, who is empathetic, who is able to build positive relationships and also to be their authentic self and that is the beauty of Movement Exchange. So we are asking people to come in, bring what they are passionate about which is dance and what they have skills in, you can be a global citizen and be a dancer, you can  do both. Dancers already have the perfect tools to be come global citizens because they are able to connect and move with others.

In regards to the SDGs, which one do you feel impacts you the most

I think good health and wellbeing, in the sense that being able to dance is a big part of being able to be a healthy fulfilled individual. We both know that dance provide exercise but also that sense of wellbeing, that sense of being able to accomplish things with your body. I think also in many ways the idea of quality education is focused on academic education but I think it’s important to include dance education, I think we’ve seen it in lots of academic programmes, things like dance and other artistic activities get cut, so that’s important gab that needs to be addressed within education, we can’t just say that education is learning from books, it’s not. I think also peace and justice in terms of building institutions that focus on peace and justice, because for us we don’t say that dance is going to change the world and just get rid of all the conflict that exists, that would be wonderful! But we really do believe that engaging with others through dance and building those connection and being able to connect with others and realised that you are able to do that! Is a really important first step in generating those conversations that we need to address problems.

How did you get involved with your organization?

I was introduced to Movement Exchange as an undergraduate student when I was at Indiana university which am still there!  So I got involved as a volunteer and then I started providing different types of admin services here and there, just stayed involved for a several years and they were looking for a new executive  director and I felt like the right time! So Movement Exchange has been a part of my life now for 6 years going on 7 years.Now my favourite part about my job being in the admin side now, that I get to have those conversations  with all these different people and I recognise my self, that young collage student or that dancer who is just starting to realise that dance is so much more than just a studio.

What makes you passionate about what you do within your organization?

Am passionate about getting to watch people both explore their own abilities to engage in their communities through dance. I love getting to see how our students in our other programs are able to experience and become more creative, more expressive individuals through dance and see how dance changes their lives, that is what drives me everyday, being able to work with an organisation that really believe that dance can make a difference and that dance is important, and I feel more like a dancer now than I ever did when I was in the studio every single day! Because I understand what dance does and I understand why dance is important and why we need to keep advocating for it and that is why I love doing what I do!!!

How do you see MTW and your organization collaborating?

I think it’s really neat to see the way that you are teaching students to be global citizens, you have a lot of activities that emphasis on movement , I know that your founders have a background in dance and that is where they came from so it’s not surprising that so many of your activities involves creativity, involves art , involves movement, so there is a very similar philosophy that both of our organisation have in terms of what it means to be a global citizen and what are the different ways we can cultivate that with the youth? To me it’s really where I see our organisation overlapping, who knows what that will look like in the future!!!

Any advice for the youth
My advice is to find what you are passionate about and use that to make a difference, if you like to dance think about how you can make a difference through dance, if you like to cook how can you make a difference through cooking, if you love creative art, if you love football, singing etc, think about what you are passionate about! You don’t need to become somebody different to make a difference. We all think that change happens when you have to be someone working for the UN or become a politician, maybe that isn’t what you want to do but also just do what you love and be passionate about it and share that with other people and I think you will find that you will be able to make a difference, because you are being true to yourself and you know there is something special about everything that we do!!!.

Interviewed by Michael Woma

Get in touch with Movement Exchange

Facebook: Movement Exchange

Instagram: @movementexchange

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