Liz Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator, and speaker. She founded the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and cultivated the company's multi-generational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance. Throughout her career, Lerman has created community-based projects that have investigated social issues in politics, science, medicine, and religion. While in residence, Lerman led a workshop for dance therapists and other dance enthusiasts at the New England Chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association. She also offered two workshops about experiencing the Gardner through movement, in which 20 individuals interpreted the Museum’s collections using personal stories and dance styles. She was the first artist to actually live at the Museum during her five-week residency, and gave an Eye of the Beholder lecture in which she publicly grappled with her discomfort as a Jew in the midst of so many Christian images.
After she handed the artistic leadership of the company over to the next generation of Dance Exchange artists in 2011, Lerman pursued new projects, including a semester at Harvard University as an Artist-in-Residence. Other projects involved Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, of Urban Bush Women; an investigation of the impact of war on medicine; and comic book structures as applied to narration in performance. Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer, Lerman's collection of essays, was published in 2011 by Wesleyan University Press.
Lerman has been the recipient of numerous honors, including a 2002 MacArthur "genius” grant, and a 2011 United States Artists Ford Fellowship. She received the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, given to artists of exceptional vision in 2017. In March 2019, the University of Maryland Libraries announced they will digitize the video archives of Lerman and Dance Exchange. Her work has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, the American Dance Festival, Harvard Law School, and the Kennedy Center, among many others. Her newest performance, Wicked Bodies, reflects on and addresses issues about women’s bodies that have persisted through time.