Wednesday, January 11, 2012

DDD's return to The Joyce Theater!

We’re baaack.
David Dorfman Dance (DDD) is back at the Joyce. After a seven year absence (last seen on stage performing Older Testaments, approaching some calm and Lightbulb Theory in the spring of 2005) DDD is ready to heat up your winter in a joyous five-night run of Prophets of Funk  from January 24-29, with shows on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30pm, Thursday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm.

In case you forgot, Prophets of Funk (POF) is danced to the music of the iconic Sly and the Family Stone. Some of you might have gotten a blazing hot glimpse of the show when DDD funkified New York alongside the Original Family Stone at Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors concert series last August. That ground-breaking collaboration was just a taste, as the upcoming Joyce Theater performance will be the NYC premiere of the fully staged version of POF.

Here’s a quick blurb about the piece from good ol’ Mr. Dorfman himself. 

"Sly and the Family Stone was one of the first racially and gender-integrated bands in American music history and a solid purveyor of social consciousness...'Prophets of Funk' lifts up the spirit of Sly - that in the face of the funk of life, there are still hopes and aspirations that reside in all of us...The audience should be prepared to have great difficulty resisting the temptation to move and sing along with this incredible, ahead-of-its-time music. Dress comfortably - even funk-ally - as you may find yourself on stage dancing by the evening's end.”

You heard it here first folks. Bust out the afros, bell-bottoms, peace, love and groove. Shake your thang over to 175 8th Avenue and try (I dare you) to defy the funk.

And in case you need further motivation to get your new year’s resolutions in gear, I’ve composed an exciting, yet completely doable, list of fun ways to make 2012 the funkiest year ever!

Good luck and we’ll see you at the show(s). Tickets start at $10 - get them here or call JoyceCharge at 212-242-0800.

Top 5 things to do to Jumpstart 2012
2. Can't make the show in NYC. No problem. Escape the winter chill. Fly south and catch DDD at NCSU Center Stage in Raleigh, NC. Stewart Theatre, Saturday, February 4th, 2012 8pm.

3. Learn the Prophets of Funk line dance. Don’t worry. A step-by-step instructional video will be uploaded to our facebook page soon.
 4. Perform the line dance somewhere unexpected! Extra points if you film it AND share the video online. Super extra points if you can turn it into a flash mob!

 5. Ride a horse through times square on your way to a half marathon that’s merely the preparation for a deep sea diving expedition, only to be interrupted by your underwater oil painting class, geared to complement your wine-pairing, hot-air ballon riding, mastering of the splits, extreme resolution making, fabulous self. 

Happy New Year! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Southern Comfort: Grits, Sweet Tea and Repertory

By Meghan Bowden
Here’s a little secret about me: I’m a southern girl at heart. I love grits, sweet tea, collard greens and heat. Thankfully the David Dorfman Dance (DDD) southeast tour has all of the above, minus the heat (but the crisp fall air is so refreshing after that scorching summer, I’ll take it!)
Currently DDD just arrived at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC after a wonderful few days at Coker College in Hartsville, SC. The entire company hasn’t been together since the whirlwind of our summer performances ended in mid-August with an exuberant six-night run at Jacob’s Pillow that, personally nearly killed me, but also got us all into great shape to take on the south.



DDD outside the Midnight Rooster in Hartsville, SC

We also have at least three residency activities at each location. I often find that these close encounters with the students and local residents can generate some of the most rewarding experiences on the road. The intense time re-imagining and developing repertory with students is especially invigorating. It breathes new life into our current work, Prophets of Funk, and greatly informs our work in progress inspired by the music of Patti Smith.
Here is a bit of what Whitney Tucker*, a dancer in the company, had to say about her most recent experience creating repertory with students at NYU’s 2011 Summer Residency Festival
How many students did you work with and how long did you have to rehearse?
15 students. We only had five days, with ninety minute rehearsals each day.
What DDD repertory were you referencing?
We were work-shopping brand new ideas for a piece inspired by Patti Smith music. 
How did you choose the participants?
The participants were chosen by NYU staff during an audition process that placed them according to their technique classes.  I typically work with the students who are not from NYU, and therefore grouped separately from the other "levels".  I love working with that particular group because there is a great variety of movement backgrounds, hometowns (sometimes coming from different countries), interests and ages.
I am not a big fan of choosing performers or creators within an auditioning paradigm. However, when we (Renuka Hines and I) were determining who would partake in speaking parts, solo material, or particularly highlighted "roles", we made decisions from their improvisatory choices that stood out to us.
How do you decide how and what to teach?
Renuka and I taught based on our availability, which was dictated by our non-David (bill-paying) jobs.  For that particular residency, we took inspiration from only Patti Smith music and some photos of her.   
Do you teach a technique class to the students? 
Throughout that residency, we taught technique classes separately from the repertory classes.  Teaching David's repertory is unique in that we never teach purely replicated work as it exists on a video or through counts and formations.  We may use excerpts from theatrical structure, specific themes or movement phrases to create a student work.  
Alternatively, I have always felt a generous invitation from David to draw out a student's proclivities and to highlight their strengths.  I learned this from him and he is a master at it.  He really does see people within their dancing.  Ironically, there also exists an implicit invitation to challenge a person and sometimes this means encouraging him or her to do what they aren't sure about, have never done before, or that which they feel like they aren't "good" at.  
What do you emphasize as far as movement and creative choices in the process, be it in class or rehearsal?  
I try to stay off-vertical because watching someone determine their center while unstable is intriguing.  When choreographing I try to avoid material that is residue from other works of David's, unless it is worth reiterating thematically.  
What is your most memorable repertory experience? 
My most memorable experience would be when I was a student at Arizona State in 2004.  It was a unique residency that combined high school students, college students, and David.  I consider it the beginning of my dance career in some ways, as it came at a crucial moment in which I was considering leaving dance completely to pursue sustainable agriculture and housing.
What are two lessons you have learned from building repertory with students? 
 1. It pays to give as much as you can, to remember what it’s like to experience DDD-style movement for the first time, and to look for the more subtle things around myself.  

WHITNEY LYNN TUCKER is from the hills of southern Illinois, and moved to New York in 2006. She graduated magna cum laude from Arizona State University with a B.F.A. in Dance Education. Her interests over time have led her to study Capoeira, Contact Improvisation, various lineages of yoga, boxing, and social dance. She draws from experiences as a public school teacher (Vancouver, WA) and from those as the creator/facilitator of a movement-program for women who were recovering from prostitution (Phoenix, AZ). When she's not dancing, she is working as a labor doula or teaching at Studio 26, an Eco-friendly fitness + wellness center she co-founded in 2010. Visit her at 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New York gets Funkified!

By Meghan Bowden

We kicked it (aka We raised over $5,000 on our online community driven  fundraising campaign at Whoohoo!). It’s been funked up (nuf said). So what’s next?

David Dorfman Dance (DDD) is about to take over New York City. Tomorrow, 8/11/11, a concert modern dance company will perform live with a billboard chart-topping group of musical icons. Let me hit you with a little background information about the show you don’t want to miss (just in case you haven’t visited “The History of Funk in 550 Characters” See below).

At its peak, Sly and the Family Stone had three number one hits and spent over twenty weeks on top of the charts. They sold out all over the country, revolutionized the funk sound and beamed through TV sets across the nation with a joyful vision of race and gender integration never before seen.

Now The Family Stone is joining David Dorfman Dance for the live concert edition of Prophets of Funk, an evening-length modern dance work inspired by the songs that have made generation after generation get up and dance to the music.

Both groups, DDD and The Family Stone, met for the first time on Tuesday during technical rehearsals. The current band features founding members: Gregg Errico, Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini as well as  Blaise Sison, Nate Wingfield, Trina Johnson Finn and Alex Davis. Due to delays from the rain and the normal needs of technical rehearsals, we were only able to jam with the band for about an hour, but that hour was exhilarating, and tricky. DDD has been groovin to the recorded versions of Sly and the Family Stone’s music for over two years.  Jerry, Cynthia and Gregg have been playing it live for over forty! Both groups have got their own versions of the music engrained in their bones, which requires some meddling to meld as one.

Everyone was more than game to play along, though, and we’ve still got about seven hours of rehearsal left to lock this thing down. Combining the abstraction of contemporary concert modern dance with the accessibility of commercial pop music. Finding the balance between funky and ferocity. Accessing the joy while honoring the times. Fighting the sweat in 100 degree heat—BUT. YOU are in luck. 

The weather calls for 0% chance of rain and a lovely evening in the mid-70s. So there is no excuse to miss this (plus the show is FREE.99!). Get your booty out the door and over to Lincoln Center Out of Doors at the Damrosch Park Bandshell between 62nd and 65th Streets and Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues in Lincoln Center. The party starts at 7:oopm with the 1970’s Ethiopian groove of Debo Band joined by Addis Ababa’s traditional dance and music troupe, Fendika

David Dorfman Dance and the Family Stone hit the stage around 8pm. We better see you there!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is the reccession really over?!*

*And 5 other questions DDD would love to hear your thoughts on
By Meghan Bowden

So according to the National Bureau of Economic Research* the recent recession that changed so many of our lives in the artistic world and beyond officially ended in June, 2009.
Huh? Really?
What struck me about this little-known economic fact is that no matter how well the economy is doing, whether you’re an artist or a biologist, finding a healthy balance between one’s life work and driving passions is always a precarious endeavor. Last week we heard from David Dorfman Dance’s Renuka Hines about how teaching infuses her dancing with humility and inspiration.
This week we’ll hear from Raja Feather Kelly, dancing fiend, about his balancing act as a performing artist with multiple dance companies. But first, what do you have to say on the subject?
  1. How do you pay the bills, AND allow passion to thrive in your life?
  2. What was your first job?
  3. What’s a lesson you’ve learned from the job you have now or one from the past?
  4. When was the last time you got funky?
  5. Any work/passion advice to share?
Leave a comment here or on the wall. Answer as many questions as you like. We want to know what everybody else out there is up to. When you’re done, read below to see what Raja has to say about bills, jobs, work and more.

Raja, what’s your job title outside of DDD?
Company Manager for zoe | juniper
Dancer for Race Dance, Kyle Abraham/, zoe | juniper, Christopher Williams Dance  

What was the first job you had after college?
Company Member with Lisa Race (2 hrs after Graduation)
Performing Apprentice with David Dorfman Dance (4 days after Graduation)
Company Member Colleen Thomas Dance (2 Months After )
Company Member Isadora Dance ( 2 months After)
Company Manager - Ellen Cornfield ( 4 Months after Graduation)
Company Manager - RaceDance (4 months after Graduation)
Host- Sarabeth's Restaurant ( 5 months after graduation)

What was the highest paying job you’ve had?
Company Managing

What are 3 most important lessons you learned from the bill-paying jobs you’ve had?
Bills will always be there; find something you enjoy.
A job is just a job. It's there to support what you want to do.
You can make it work.            
What are you doing now? How does it supports you as a dancer with David Dorfman Dance?
I work around my dancing, if it doesn't fit, i don't do it.

What’s your advice to dancers out there in finding the right job to pay the bills and support their dancing?
Work around your dancing, don't dance around your work.

RAJA FEATHER KELLY originally from Fort Hood, Texas, is an honors graduate from Connecticut College. Having received his BA in Dance and English. He is currently a company member of David Dorfman Dance, RaceDance led by Lisa Race, Kyle Abraham’s in NYC, Zoe Scofield|Juniper Shuey in Seattle, WA and Christopher Williams Dance. Raja has also performed with Colleen Thomas and Dancers, IsadoraNOW, Sue Healy Dance company in Sydney Australia and Dairakudikan from Tokyo Japan. His own choreography with thefeath3rtheory had its premiere in October 2010 at DNA in NYC. Raja is also very excited to have been selected as a DanceWEB scholarship recipient for the 2009 Impulstanz Dance Festival in Vienna, Austria.

* Check out this review of the recession report in the New Yorker.
It’s an amusing commentary on the “irrationality” of such reporting and its usefulness to the everyday citizen.

David Dorfman Dancers throw down! ...and pay the bills

By Meghan Bowden

If you’re an artist of any kind you will have a “bill-paying” job to supplement the income you receive from your art (and often BE the primary source of income to support your art-making). Finding the right one can feel like a job on its own, but once you’ve found it, the bill-paying gig can be just as rewarding as time in the studio or on stage. It can provide an excellent outlet for other creative interests, build marketable skills applicable across the job market AND support the demanding physical work of dancing professionally.
Here are few facts about earning potential for artists, specifically dancers, compiled by the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Median hourly wages of dancers were $12.22 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.03 and $18.82. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.28, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $27.26. Annual wage data for dancers were not available, because the wide variation in the number of hours worked by dancers and the short-term nature of many jobs—which may last for 1 day or 1 week—make it rare for dancers to have guaranteed employment that exceeds a few months.”

$12.22 per hour is approximately $25,000 per year (before taxes), and that’s working 40 hours per week for 52 weeks, which is unfathomable in the dance world (and down right unhealthy!). The reality is dancers work around 20 hours per week, for less than 21 weeks out of the year, which is closer to approximately $5,000 per year (before taxes!).

So what’s a dancer to do?
Keep it MOVIN!  Try one of the following professions of a David Dorfman dancer: Teach. Write. Choreograph. Judge. Draw. Manage. Study. Model. Dance. Train. OR, check back here each week to learn more about the life of a David Dorfman Company Member.

This week features the fiery and fabulous, Renuka Hines. Renuka joined the company in 2008. Here’s what she had to say about paying the bills and making dances happen.

Renuka, what’s your job title outside of DDD?
Dance Teacher

What was the first job you had after college?
 Dancing for David and as a Nanny for a 3.5 year old child.

What was the highest paying job you’ve had?
Being a Nanny.

What are 3 most important lessons you learned from the bill-paying jobs you’ve had?
It's all about balance--paying the bills is important because finding a consistent source of money allows me to dance more. I'm not exhausted from piecing together odd jobs to pay my rent.

It's impossible to be everywhere at once, and there will be times when the demands of all of my jobs don't align.  I find that when I try to be in the moment wherever I am (and not worry about where I am NOT), I feel like I truly give my whole self to each job. We really don't spend all of our time dancing, so the jobs we do outside of dance need to be fulfilling in some way also.  Ideally, a bill-paying job can also be creative and energetic fuel for the art that we make.

What are you up to now? How does it support you as a dancer with David Dorfman Dance?
I currently teach 14 classes a week in NYC to dance students ranging in age from 2-10. My students' energy, creativity, and vulnerability constantly amaze and humble me, and in teaching them I remember to apply those same things to my work with David and the company.

What’s your advice to dancers out there in finding the right job to pay the bills and support their dancing?  
Don't sacrifice one thing for another.  Dancing is what we do because we love it; it is the thing we are most passionate about, and many people don’t have the opportunity to do the things they are most passionate about.  That being said, finding a job that supports your work and life as a dancer is also important.  Being a dancer is hopefully a long career- one which is sustainable because you balance your passion for dance with the reality of being able to live securely.

   Renuka hails from Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Columbia University in 2008 where she received the Louis Sudler Prize for the Arts and was also a finalist for the ACDFA/Dance Magazine award for Best Performer.  Renuka joined David Dorfman Dance in 2008.  She is also currently performing with Nicholas Leichter Dance and has worked on projects with Tze Chun, Colleen Thomas, and Bill T. Jones.  In addition to dancing and performing, Renuka is happy to be teaching young dance students at schools and studios around NYC.  Renuka is constantly humbled by the incredible support of her family and friends and would like to thank them for believing in her as much as they do.


By Meghan Bowden

That’s my Step!  A History of Funk in 550 characters
(that’s 5 tweets for you twitterbugs out there)

James Brown, Black and Proud, introduces the musical groove.

Sly and the Family Stone (integrated by race and gender) slap the electric bass guitar, extending the funky groove. Their joyful sound and socially conscious lyrics catalyze funk to mainstream success.

George Clinton and the Parliament’s innovative style clearly define and propel funk to its commercial peak.

Prince redefines contemporary funk by mixing diverse instrumentation and musical styles.

David Dorfman Dance performs Prophets of Funk, featuring a groundbreaking collaboration with The Family Stone at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, funkifying New York City on 8/11/11.