Sarah Levitt and Matthew Cumbie preview Cassie Meador’s “How To Lose a Mountain.” (Zachary Z. Handler)

The Dance Exchange program Tuesday at the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts was a pre-kickoff to the official kickoff Tuesday of a two-month dance project by this Takoma Park-based company.

Artistic Director Cassie Meador and some company members will trek 500 miles through Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia to explore the energy sources that power our homes. This project culminates in a dance production titled “How To Lose a Mountain,” set to premiere next spring.

The pre-kickoff gave a taste of what certainly is Meador’s most ambitious project since she took over the company from Liz Lerman last year. There were three short dances. One was inspired by the difficulties encountered while practicing for the trek. The performance was heartfelt, although the connection was murky, but perhaps that is unimportant. Another dance featured a pack of cards, which became more comprehensible once Meador explained a family legend about her great-grandfather losing a mountain in a card game.

The event launched the “How to Lose a Mountain” Web site (, which includes an interactive map, videos, photos and stories that will show the journey as it unfolds. During an eight-week walk on the Appalachian Trail, Meador and some company members will be joined by artists, naturalists and environmentalists. Along the way, company members will be collecting stories and staging community events that encourage conservation.

The program concluded with Meador asking audience members to write down “what powers you.” Three people then volunteered to tell what they had written. The first said, “music.” The second said, “inspiration.” The third said, “Starbucks.”

Squires is a freelance writer.