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Conversations with Barbara Selinger

Today we’d like to introduce you to Barbara Selinger. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
More than 40 years ago, four women, including myself, loved working and dancing together. We were all graduates of Wayne State University where we earned degrees in Dance and Dance Education. Because we admired each other’s choreography and wanted to continue our work together, we formed Detroit Dance Collective, now known as DDCdances. Over the years we performed and taught in numerous schools and communities and produced concerts in theatres and alternative spaces throughout Michigan and beyond. In the early days, we were privileged to presented over 60 school performances and teach classes in one month in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. What an amazing experience. People welcomed us with open arms! 

I co-directed the company with Paula Kramer for the first 22 years but have been the sole director for the past 20 years. From the company’s inception we have always believed in compensating artists. DDC contracts 6 to 8 dancers yearly, whose work is funded by the State of Michigan as well as corporate sponsors and many private donors. We are so grateful for their continuous support. 

I am honored to always work with the most talented and passionate dance artists and educators on the planet! We believe “Dance is Education.” Our outreach programming impacts the lives of people of all ages and abilities. All our artists agree that dance is a powerful means of communication that can energize communities, built self-esteem, courage, and pride. 

DDC has been around! We were the company in residence at Oakland Community College for 15 years and the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center for 8 years where we rehearsed, performed and administered the community dance programs. We continue to conduct rehearsals and classes in private studios and spaces in Detroit and the Metro area. DDC will continue to uphold our legacy, support the modern dance tradition, and will always be excited to reimagine the future! 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
In the beginning, the company’s work just fell into place. Today, we continue to thrive on those adventures as we look to the future. Keeping a positive attitude about the work and the powerful effect it has on people allows us to continue to achieve our vision. No, it’s not always easy. We navigated through the massive upheaval brought on by the Covid 19 Pandemic. With dance studios and stages shuttered, our season challenged us to discover how we could offer memorable movement experiences through alternative platforms. We were provoked by our changing world where we were scattered six feet apart, were survivors of immeasurable events, blinking with disorientation, disbelief, and heartache. We carried on by utilizing technology and film to offer educational events via Zoom and were able to choreograph and design dance for the camera. New doors opened, and we stepped through those doors not knowing exactly what was on the other side. Because we trusted our instincts and the creative process, we discovered new alternatives, and learned so much – reimagine and transcend! 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m a choreographer and performer who is profoundly dedicated to creating Art That Matters! My creative vision explores the deepest realm of my imagination voicing personal thoughts and feelings that embrace the human condition. The repertory addresses social, equality, and important environmental issues. I believe the choreography is powerful and our inclusive community programs heighten human expression within and across cultures. 

I create and produce works that are often collaborations with artists of other disciplines. I have worked closely with visual artists, poets, photographers, and musicians. DDC dancers are intelligent artists and movers who are dedicated to creating movement gestures, phrases, and written text based on the ideas I present to them. We bring our life experiences to each rehearsal, and together, we improvise, draw from the improvisations to identify the movement, images, and group connectivity that reflects the intent of the work. Every rehearsal is videoed, so I may look back at the movement to select phrases and segments that, when juxtaposed, create a cohesive structure and an imaginative narrative. 

My work is well known for including video projections that are designed to transform the stage into an unexpected, extraordinary environment in which the dancers are embed. At times these projections are images of the paintings/sculptures of the visual artists with whom I collaborate. The stage is richly charged with light, texture, and color focusing on blending dance and metaphor. I am devoted to creating works that touch the senses, express emotions through pure physicality, and produce visually striking images that embrace and inspire audiences of all ages. My work in education always places the learner central to the experience, and I diligently assist each student discover their technical and creative potential. 

DDC’s legacy and our life-affirming work will always make its collective voice heard with respect, love, and compassion. 

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
I loved sitting on the kitchen floor playing records on my tiny turntable and dancing! 

Contact Info:


Image Credits
Steve Selinger
John Sobczak

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