In 1973, Susan Dowling was instrumental in getting a month-long residency at Tufts University for a group of choreographers, dancers and teachers. It was the beginning of Dance Collective/Mass Movement, Inc. Using Dance Collective as their company name, the original group included Susan, Martha Armstrong Gray, Dawn Kramer, Ruth Wheeler, Becky Arnold, Bob Cooley, Arawana Hayashi, and Dorothy Hershkowitz. In 1976, Martha was quoted as saying “We started out as a group of friends who respected each other’s work. That respect is the glue without which the company wouldn’t survive.” A reviewer from that period, Elizabeth Varady, wrote “Dance Collective is one of our best bets in the “will last” and “must see” category.”
The choreographers shared the responsibilities of running a company, pooled financial resources, shared dancers and offered voluminous feedback on each others’ work.
Three years later in 1976, the company slimmed down to the first four of the original core group, and welcomed Judith Chaffee to the shared directorship. Christine Temin wrote at the time “Their discussions have the practical savvy of a League of Women Voters meeting and the candor of a women’s support group…” For the next thirty-three years, Dance Collective operated as a professional contemporary dance company producing award-winning choreography and concerts throughout New England and in Europe, sponsoring an acclaimed Summer Outreach Program for inner-city youth (a version of which continues at Boston University) and providing popular educational programs at schools and after-school sites.
By 2003, all the original founders had retired. And in 2006, the board voted to retire the Dance Collective name thereby disbanding the company after thirty-year years. Mass Movement has continued with a particular emphasis on educational programming. Micki Taylor-Pinney, who joined as a dancer in 1985 and as co-director in 1998, has continued in the leadership role.