1974 – Maida Withers and board member associates apply for 501-C-3 not-for-profit, federally tax-exempt status as a cultural performing arts organization in Washington, DC, USA, July 16, 1974. 501-C-3 status was approved in 1976.
Maida Withers invited five former Master of Arts students who had studied dance at GW to join in forming a dance company for the explicit purpose of creating and presenting dances on stage, on site, and on film. The original members were Brook Andrews (visual artist and dancer/choreographer), John Bailey (visual artist and dancer/choreographer), JoAnn Sellars (dancer and university teacher), and Betty Tittsworth (dancer and teacher). Liz Lerman and other graduate students also participated in many of the early works. The artists were always committed to collaboration, experimentation, and multidisciplinary performance. Maida was the founding artistic director. Music was always created and performed “live” for productions. John Driscoll was the composer in residence for the first 9 years of the Company.
The name Maida Withers and the Dance Construction Company was selected due to our process of constructing dances through various means including improvisation and scripting and scoring for dance. Articles of incorporation were signed on June 11, 1975 and filed in the District of Columbia July 24, 1975. We had been performing together since 1972 in what was known as a “dance collective,” a description of the process of making decisions in a collective manner. Sharon Leigh Clark, GW professor, John Bailey, dancer and visual artist, and Maida Withers signed as the Incorporators of the Company.
The Company applied to for Federal 501-C-3 not-for-profit tax exempt status at that time. The organization received the determination letter of approval in March 1976. The Company had been fully operational since 1974.
The founding dancers worked together for 6 years without a change in dancers. Many visual artists, poets, and others were included in all works.