I sat down with Alex Mathews, Associate Director of Dance Resource Center this past Saturday, November 11th for DRC's “Day of Dancer Heath.” Alex is a bright eyed, full of serene yet passionate energy kind of gal (who, might I add, has excellent posture). She has been with Dance Resource Center since 2014.
In the freelance and fluid world of dance, Dance Resource center provides a stable and anchoring resource or hub for the Los Angeles dance community.
“DRC is the voice for the greater Los Angeles dance community,” Alex Mathews told me. They act as a sort of union for dancers, providing services for a dancer’s mental health, physical health and all around wellness.
They also provide dancers with administrative support such as marketing assistance, consultation and tech support. Not only that but they offer sponsorship opportunities, health care information and a multitude of resources, services and programs. It really is a one stop shop for all Los Angeles’ dancer needs.
Dance Resource Center works closely with Dance USA in D.C. Dance/USA is the National service organization for dance. Oh, and they have a weekly newsletter! In other words they do everything to make the dance community's lives easier. Membership is just 30 dollars for a student dancer and 50 dollars for individual membership. Their services are especially useful for those dancers just arriving in Los Angeles.
"If you're a newcomer to Los Angeles and you need a starting point, because LA is a complicated city, then DRC will help you navigate." Mathews told me in a very protective sisterly way.
As Alex and I walked through the Art Share L.A. in downtown L.A. for the DRC event called “Day of Dancer Health,” I saw that protective nature come out even more fiercely. She guided me through the event activities like a graceful ballerina. She asked each dancer we passed how they were doing, showing great empathy.
We stopped in front of some lithe dancers on tables getting their 75-minute physical assessment. Next we made our way to the classrooms to witness dancers getting spiritually centered through meditation and qi gong classes.
The "Day of Dancer Health" was a day dedicated to the health (physical, mental and spiritual) of dancers. The artists go through a series of stations where they are seen by medical professionals and physical therapists.
Their flexibility, strength and arch support are tested and the medical professionals offer help with any imbalances or injuries.
There were vendors on site to help dancers with health insurance and Planned Parenthood was there to focus on sexual health. Nutritionists were also present. So all bases were covered, basically. The event is all about promoting self-care.
"All of this is to empower dancers to take better care of themselves." Mathews told me.
Believe me these dancers are in good hands with DRC. I was also very impressed with Alex Mathews and her dedication to the organization.
Alex has a dancing background herself (modern/contemporary dance). When I asked where she was from she said, "A handful of places." She told me she was a "pharmaceutical brat not an army brat." She moved around a lot. She lived in California, on the East Coast and abroad.
With all the moving around as well as discovering herself and her sexuality, dance was her one constant. "No matter where we lived, dance was always my anchor. A dance studio was always the first thing that my parents sought out for me." Mathews explained to me.
Mathews came to L.A. to study dance at UCLA. She told me. "Dance gave me a voice." Dance also allowed her to be of service.
"Service has always been a part of my background." While dancing in college, at UCLA she realized she was "queer," meaning that she doesn't identify as straight, bi or gay, she is attracted to all. She taught sexual education and began to teach dancers about their bodies.
"Dancers use our bodies all the time and know our bodies on so many levels but we don't always take care of our bodies." Mathews said. She is an advocate for the health and wellness of dancers. She knows their plight intimately because she is a dancer.
DRC and Mathews understand the unstable life of a freelance dance professional going from gig to gig which is why Dance Resource Center is so vital to the dance community, it provides an anchor to a dancer’s life that can seem to always be spinning.
Please go to www.danceresourcecenter.org to find out more about the organization and to become a member.