Liz Lerman to receive ADF Teaching Award

2017 American Dance Festival Distinguished Teaching AwardThe American Dance Festival (ADF) in Durham, NC will award the 2017 Balasaraswati/Joy Anne Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching to celebrated dance artist Liz Lerman. A ceremony will take place on Saturday, July 15, 2017 at 5 p.m. in Baldwin Auditorium on Duke University’s East Campus.


Liz Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator, speaker and the recipient of numerous honors, including a 2002 MacArthur “Genius Grant,” a 2011 United States Artists Ford Fellowship in Dance, and a Deutsch Fellowship. A key aspect of her artistry is opening her process to various publics from shipbuilders to physicists, construction workers to ballerinas, resulting in both research and outcomes that are participatory, relevant, urgent and usable by others. She founded Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and cultivated the company’s unique multi-generational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance until 2011. She was an artist-in-residence and visiting lecturer at Harvard University in 2011, and her most recent work, Healing Wars, toured across the U.S. in 2014 and 2015.


Lerman conducts residencies on the Critical Response Process, creative research, the intersection of art and science, and the building of narrative within dance performance at such institutions as Harvard University, Yale School of Drama, Wesleyan University, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the National Theatre Studio, among others. Her collection of essays, Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer, was published in 2011 by Wesleyan University Press and released in paperback in 2014.


This year, Lerman was named the first Institute Professor at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, where she is building a new ensemble lab focused on creative research.


“I am honored to receive this award from my peers. For years ADF has been a source of pedagogical innovation and a place for multiple generations of dance and movement artists to study together. To be recognized by that community of teachers, choreographers and performers is a very special thing,” stated Lerman. “I am particularly moved that the acknowledgment includes the Critical Response Process, a series of steps for giving and receiving feedback as well as a set of values that has informed my work for many years.”


ADF Dean Leah Cox stated, “As all of us at ADF reflect on the impact of being part of the Durham community for the past 40 years, I cannot help but think of Liz Lerman and all she has done to form community through her inclusive, forward-thinking approach to dance. She has erased the boundaries dance has constructed around age, experience, process, and performance. From her initial forays teaching dance to the elderly to her ongoing research into the intersections between dance and other disciplines that enable people who might never engage in the form to become deeply involved in creative processes, Lerman teaches people how dance operates as a way of understanding the world. For dancemakers, Liz Lerman has made hugely important contributions with her Critical Response Process, which has been adopted by choreographers and dance educators the world over. It is a genuine pleasure to honor Lerman with this award.”


Past recipients of the Chair include Pearl Primus, Daniel Nagrin, Betty Jones, Bella Lewitzky,
 Anna Halprin, Donald McKayle, Bessie Schönberg, Matt Mattox, Pauline Koner, Viola Farber,
 Mary Anthony, Walter Nicks, Jane Dudley, Sophie Maslow, Pearl Lang, Martha Myers,
 Carmen De Lavallade, Gus Solomons jr, Gerri Houlihan, Dr. Charles “Chuck” Davis, Linda Tarnay, Douglas Nielsen, Dianne McIntyre, Carolyn Adams, Sharon Kinney, Ruth Andrien, Yang Meiqi,
 Donna Faye Burchfield, Ana Marie Forsythe, Phyllis Lamhut, Irene Dowd, Zvi Gotheiner, James Sutton, Jaclynn Villamil and Anne Green Gilbert.


For more information on ADF, which has been presenting modern dance for 83 years, visit


Photo: Liz Lerman. Photo by Lise Metzger.