Growing Our Own Gardens: a queer world, unfolding

“I believe it is vital for members of the LGBTQ+ community to have spaces to come together and build coalitions across difference and work to transform the world. The design of the project and Dance Exchange’s proven model of community engagement necessitates a deep and informed responsiveness to the world around us and the specific oppressions members of an engagement community face.” — Tyler French, collaborator and poet

Photo by Beth Mwano-Brooks, featuring Rainbow History Project’s Jeff Donahoe

Growing Our Own Gardens is an iterative performance project rooted in queer world-making. Conceived and directed by Matthew Cumbie, this body of work centers and celebrates the stories, struggles, and possibilities of intergenerational queer communities. In 2018, with support from Dance Exchange, Growing Our Own Gardens premiered a queer world, unfolding, a DC-based iteration of this work that was informed and shaped by years of research and work with local partners Dance Place, the DC Center, the Human Rights Commission of the City of Rockville, and the Rainbow History Project.

The stage work was only one outcome of this research, though; through our partnerships, we also generated repeatable intergenerational LGBTQ+ community workshops, created connections between various LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations, and created Queer History Walks with the Rainbow History Project (walks that incorporate movement and information about LGBTQ+ histories in specific DC neighborhoods). To date, we have co-facilitated a handful of Queer History Walks with the Rainbow History Project of the DuPont and Eastern Market neighborhoods of DC; each time, we have gathered 50-60 people for these walks.

Creative Team

Matthew Cumbie, director and choreographer

Ben Carver, videographer

Heather Doyle, collaborating artist

Tyler French, collaborating artist

Jessica Hale, collaborating artist

Sam Horning, collaborating artist

Elizabeth Johnson, collaborating artist

Stowe Nelson, sound research and support

Juliana Ponguta, collaborating artist

Michelé Prince, collaborating artist

Micah Salkind, sound designer

Jazzmin St. James D’Monaco, collaborating artist

Andy Torres, collaborating artist

Randi Young, costume designer

Photo by Ben Carver, featuring Juliana Ponguta and Heather Doyle in Growing Our Own Gardens: a queer world, unfolding