[WASHINGTON, DC, October 31, 2020] — Following a change.org petition that gained nearly 5,000 signatures over the summer, Joy of Motion Dance Center (JOMDC), a nonprofit dance organization, is formally announcing that they have refreshed their Board of Directors and leadership as well as implementing transparent, anti-racist practices. In addition to the new Board members and leadership, employees and volunteers are working together to rebuild a sustainable, equitable, anti-racist organization that lives up to the organization’s founding principle, that “Dance is for Everyone.”
Joy of Motion is proud to welcome new Directors: Carol Foster (Chair), Dr. Josie Hoover (Vice-Chair), Jozanne Summerville (Treasurer), Dr. Julie Mulvihill (Secretary), Ashanti Brown-Daniels, and Dr. Kate Spanos as well as new faculty liaison to the Board Tamara Henry. “Becoming the first Black Board Chair for Joy of Motion is undoubtedly overdue. However, we hope there will come a time where ‘the first’ anything is no longer an anomaly,” says Foster. These new Directors come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, bringing a wealth of expertise to the organization, from dance education, community service, arts administration, human resources, governance, ethics, financial analysis, and real estate. Bringing passion and enthusiasm to the Board, many of the Directors are dancers who are deeply committed to building and rebuilding the Joy of Motion community. Foster adds, “I am very grateful to share leadership with this group of extremely talented women who also love dance.” Full profiles of all Directors are available on Joy of Motion’s website.
From the Joy of Motion Dance Center Board of Directors:
The Joy of Motion Dance Center Board recognizes that there is much work to do, and this work will require personal and organizational reckoning. The Board is implementing inclusive and anti-racist practices into studio policies, class curricula, and relationships. The process will not be perfect. The goal is to proceed with care, empathy, and equity while doing the work.
The Board is moving forward with a commitment to transparency, integrity, and honesty in communications with the Joy of Motion community. In particular, the goal is to return to Joy of Motion Dance Center’s founding principle that “dance is for everyone.”
The Board stands by action and not mere statements of support for racial equity. Accusations of racist behavior by members of our community will be taken seriously and addressed immediately. Joy of Motion will not tolerate any racist behavior from students, staff, faculty, or Board members that demonstrate such behavior. No one will be excluded from this policy, and the consequence will be immediate.
In addition to the new Board of Directors, Joy of Motion has elevated Krystal Odom to Interim Executive Director position. Krystal has been with the organization for more than 15 years and is the first Black woman to step into this leadership role in Joy of Motion’s 44-year history.
Over the summer, Joy of Motion employees and volunteers formed committees to assess every aspect of the organization and directly address specific concerns raised by the petition and community members. As a part of their work, committees evaluated “how Joy of Motion [could] further embrace its founding principle…by promoting how dance transforms lives, embodies diverse social values, and furthers social change,” notes Kate Spanos. The committees also helped to develop a variety of systems, policies, and initiatives that included: a transparent pay structure for employees, new initiatives in programming & class curricula, actionable steps to address concerns raised by the community, a plan for safe return to the studios, and more.
Beyond the work surrounding critical assessment of the institution, committee members, employees, and Board members participated in anti-racism professional development sessions led by Dr. Nyama McCarthy-Brown of The Ohio State University. Topics from these workshops included recognizing privilege, making space for other perspectives, becoming anti-racist, and techniques for “the development of operational rules of etiquette that groups create for themselves before diving into the tough conversations,” said Julie Mulvihill. She adds that Dr. McCarthy-Brown’s “model of presenting and speaking about these conversations was really important,” and Mulvihill remarks that she “is continuing to practice them moving forward.”
As a part of JOMDC’s ongoing commitment to creating a space where dance can truly be for everyone, the committees developed internal and community-facing reporting procedures for reporting concerns regarding equity, discrimination, and safety. Through a publicly available form, community members are encouraged to report incidents. A plan, including next steps and a path to restorative justice, will be determined by a team of staff, instructors, and Board members following any reported incident.
Joy of Motion is currently facing the most severe financial challenges seen in its 44-year history. JOMDC made the difficult decision to end its lease in Friendship Heights, closing the studio and Jack Guidone Theater. Joy of Motion’s Friendship Heights studio had been a DC dance landmark for over 30 years. The organization is currently deciding what the status of the Bethesda space will be. This reduction of physical spaces is a significant blow to the institution, but these cost-cutting measures are vital to helping the institution survive these unprecedented times. Chair Carol Foster emphasizes that Joy of Motion has “quite a job ahead” and that the organization “need[s] the community with [them]” to succeed. Foster concludes, “be assured we are committed and determined to move Joy of Motion forward.”
CALL TO ACTION
The committed individuals who now sit on the Joy of Motion Dance Center Board are determined to position Joy of Motion for sustainability and growth in the future. We call on the community to help bring the JOY back to Joy of Motion Dance Center.