It’s not exactly hip. And sited way out in tiny Mount Rainier, near D.C.’s border with Prince George’s County, you’ve probably never even heard of it. But Joe’s Movement Emporium is still one of the coolest places in the area.
There’s lots of reasons. First, because dancer Brooke Kidd conceived it 15 years ago as what the area needed: a community space where people could teach and learn all kinds of movement, no matter who they were.
Second, because it struggled along for 12 years in a storefront on Mount Rainier’s main drag using a couple of rooms that, despite their small size, were regularly booked with African dance classes, contact improvisation jams, and modern dance performances.
And finally, because now that Joe’s is in a new home with adequate facilities—three airy studios, a real theater, offices for arts organizations, and a hangout space—it’s moving forward with even more efforts to bring dance to the community, but with that same unpretentious vibe. Besides “getting through the recession,” Kidd’s plans for the future include sending movement educators to local schools, senior centers, and rec centers as part of a free wellness program, as well as hosting dance companies in the theater for longer than the usual two-night run.
All of which is reason to celebrate and support this genuinely community-based institution on its 15th anniversary tomorrow night. For $60, you get to take in roving performances by Balinese dancers, African drummers, and modern dancers, and sample food from local restaurants. Later, there’s an after party in the old space, with beer and wine and dancing (included with the ticket to the gala, or $20 on its own). Thinks of it as a way of showing appreciation for a place that always feels welcoming, no matter who walks in the door.
And if you can’t make it, keep Joe’s in mind in the future. Silk Road Dance Company, which teaches and performs Central Asian and Middle Eastern dance, is holding an all-day open house there next Saturday, and a variety of adult classes are ongoing. So if you want to learn flamenco, African dance or drumming, zumba, or hooping, but you haven’t shaken your hips in ages and don’t even know if you still can, Joe’s is a good place to start.