Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company launches Dance With Us, an educational digital platform
Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company
New York-based nonprofit performing and teaching organization Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company presents Dance With Us, an educational digital platform centered around the premiere of a series of new dance films. The resource launches from June 25-27, 2021 at 7pm ET with the premieres of the films and the reveal of the platform, a website whose URL will go live at this moment. The same program will feature Daniel Gwirtzman as emcee, and will be repeated on the three successive evenings, with a special guest host each night:
- Dante Puleio (6/25);
- Tiffany Rea-Fisher (6/26);
- Seán Curran (6/27); and
- Michael Novak, Artistic Director, Paul Taylor Dance Company, who will appear each night virtually.
Following a rapid-fire pre-show of photographs – a chronological slideshow documenting the Company's twenty-three-year history – Dance With Us ignites with a festive, pride-focused ribbon-cutting ritual initiated by each evening's guest artist. The swift-moving program will take audiences on a guided tour of the new platform, the heart of which is the release of footage from the Company's acclaimed productions of Encore. A show about putting on a show, this viewing of Encore is a dynamic, accessible way to usher patrons behind-the scenes and into the center of the creative and performing processes. The platform uses dance films to illuminate and illustrate dance concepts and compositional devices.
The event will include films narrated by performers include alumnae Michael Novak, Jamie Scott, Stacy Martorana (Wiley), Frances Samson, Christian von Howard, Cary McWilliam, and Oren Barnoy. A highlight of the launch event will be the premiere broadcast of Michael Novak's commentary on his performance in a duet from the Company's premiere of Tribe (2009) at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (footage that has never been viewed publicly). Guests Jovani Furlan, JoAnna Mendl Shaw, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Sean Curran, and Dante Puleio will also provide film narration. Another highlight of the launch will be exclusive commentary by New York City Ballet soloist Jovani Furlan, contextualizing The Brazil Series, which the Company produced in Bahia (2013). Films will be narrated by current company dancers including Derek Crescenti, Vanessa Martínez de Baños, Dwayne Brown, Sarah Hillmon, Jacob Butter, and Mariah Anton,among others.
Other highlights of the evenings include the premieres of Parade, Willow, Dollhouse, and a newly edited version of last year's acclaimed The Fantasyland Project, all of which were produced during the pandemic; and the opening of the Dance With Us Photo Gallery. The inaugural exhibit displays a collection of never-released photographs taken of the Company by Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival photographer Christopher Duggan.
The events are free with advance registration. Donations are accepted via the Company's PayPal Giving Fund, where 100% of contributions go to the nonprofit. Mixing discussions, dancing, and conversations, the interactive premiere promises to be highly accessible, entertaining, and educational. Watch the trailer here.
"The heart of the platform is the ability to hear about dance from a range of artists, including many former dancers along with several esteemed guests, while watching the diverse range of choreography," said Daniel. "The platform houses scores of interviews and narrated dances which will live on the platform as discrete bite-sized films. These are unique opportunities to hear the perspectives of the performers, not only learning how they became dancers and what influences in their lives have supported their pathways, but what goes through their minds as they watch choreography, and watch themselves, or others, perform. I think this kind of immersion into the world of contemporary dance allows audiences to not only gain more insight, but to refine their own opinions and ideas, and to be empowered to express these."
This multi-faceted project explains ways to view and speak about dance. Utilizing performance and studio footage, the resource demystifies concert dance by teaching fundamental concepts of the art form. This digital resource will be distributed widely and freely, contributing to the Open Educational Resources movement (OER), a commitment to equity, inclusion, and accessibility. The resource will be available to anyone regardless of geographic location. Multiple partnerships will ensure the impact on students, professionals, and the general viewership. The Company will also provide the resource to channels, institutional libraries, public and private schools (K-12, Higher Education), and culturally based organizations.
Schedule of Events
6:45pm: House Opens with Pre-Show Slideshow of 200 Company Photographs
8:30-9:00pm: After Party
Highlights of the Program Launch
- Premieres: Parade, an opening film which raises the curtain for the evening, is followed by Willow, triumphant and elegiac, and the spirited and playful Dollhouse.
- Platform Tour: Like walking through the rooms of a house, the site will be revealed and explained.
- The Library: View the extensive archive of dance films and filmed performances.
- Special Guests: Hear the esteemed artists' perspectives on dance, dance education, and dance films.
- Sneak Peek: Preview the upcoming dances to be launched monthly through the end of the year.
- Party! Dance With Us to celebrate the re-emergence of our lives!
Willow and Dollhouse were created last August, early on in the pandemic, when the Company came together for a residency in Newfield, NY, near Ithaca. Precautionary measures to test, self-isolate and stick to a limited bubble, allowed the dancers to rehearse and create outdoors in a range of stunning landscapes, from forests to meadows.
The film, showcasing an ensemble of dancers moving in unison in a variety of natural settings, finds inspiration from the transformative process of a tree. Filmed last summer, the title of the piece and the nature of it resonates at this time. Trees bloom again and so will we. We may be weeping now, but we will soon bloom flowers! Remaining stationary does not mean we are incapable of growth. There is much beauty in what we can accomplish despite seemingly stagnant positions. We are more than capable of blossoming into magnificent, strong trees. The metaphor reminds that good that can come from reconnecting to one's roots, or from planting new seeds in order to form new roots, or connections, in one's life. An elegy for those that passed from the pandemic, Willow is set to Scott Joplin's stirring Weeping Willow.
Filmed in an eccentric interior, a series of vignettes animate an eclectic cast of ten in this dollhouse which comes to life. Dollhouse toys with the trope of a traveling troupe of performers seeking to entertain, challenging the viewer to determine for whom the performance is happening, questioning the perspectives of performance itself. Colorful, humorous, moody, and exuberant, Dollhouse features unmasked dancers in proximate relationships set to a breakneck version of Gershwin's I Got Rhythm, played by pianist Jonny May.
Then stay with us immediately after for an interactive half-hour to continue the conversation of dance, an open forum where viewers can engage directly with Daniel and ask any questions of him.
Each night, the Company will host a 30-minute interactive dance party, with Daniel and guest emcee teaching an array of fun, easy-to-learn social dances, including his signature, the 1970s classic The Bus Stop. Designed for everyone, the night promises to finish on a high and energized note.
"Contemporary dance has been seeping more and more into the mainstream culture for decades, enhanced with the advent of shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars. With the proliferation of dance online, increased exponentially during the pandemic, more people are arguably seeing contemporary dance than ever. And an appetite for innovative choreography is a byproduct of this exposure," said choreographer and company director Daniel Gwirtzman. "The development of Dance With Us was in place years before the pandemic, with resources that have been created over the past two decades, an extension of programming we have offered as a company since our inception in 1998. We have long been committed to conversing about dance, empowering audiences to trust their opinions, and gain more knowledge of dance in pursuit of expanding one's dance literacy. The ubiquity of dance on film, finding more currency in popular culture, is not going to change. This platform gives everyone, regardless of their exposure to dance, tools to use to speak about dance, encouraging them to understand their viewpoint is as valid as that of an 'expert.' At this moment when there is so much dance to see, this platform seeks to serve as a how-to primer."
A teaching and performing organization celebrating its 23rd (we incorporated in 1999; our first Yard residency in 1998 and this is 23 years,) Anniversary, Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company has demonstrated a commitment to education since its inception. The Company has stayed true to its mission of cultivating the creation of innovative art and presenting this to the public in interactive, accessible, and meaningful ways. The Company believes everyone can join the dance. Programs encourage audiences to be active participants, integrating communities into the dance-making and performing processes, and teaching how dance can play a meaningful part of one's physical and overall health.
This project is aligned with the Company's core values, pedagogy, and programming, which have consistently gained acclaim. Narrated films will present favorite dances from the Company's repertory, illuminate dance histories, provide wellness best practices, and showcase the Company through behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. The project is also aligned with the production of dance films the Company has consistently created the past ten years. Watch the 40-second trailer: https://videoskin2018.wpcomstaging.com/.
Six months prior to the pandemic shutting down life in the U.S., the Rockefeller Brothers Fund allocated a grant of $10,000 to DGDC toward the creation of an interactive educational digital resource geared toward a general viewership. Dance With Us seeks to bridge the divide separating dance from mainstream culture, underscoring the primacy, purpose, and possibility of dance in contemporary life. Combining the instructional with the performative, the resource aims to increase the public's knowledge of dance and their dance literacy, to share the love of dance, and to introduce ways to view, speak about, and participate in dance with comfort. The platform seeks to demystify concert/contemporary dance.
"Being in touch with humanity and understanding empathy is articulated and sharpened through the arts," said Daniel. "Art in general provides that opportunity to be in touch with the range of emotions and the range of connections that make us tick as humans. And dance specifically, where you are literally sharing somebody's weight, you're holding somebody's hand, you're looking in their eyes. You're having an analog connection, not a digital connection, in this increasing age of more and more technology and distractions. The spirit of being alive comes through art."
One of the new films central to the Dance With Us platform is The Fantasyland Project, which premiered a few months into the pandemic. While this had a limited screening at that time, the film will live, free of charge, on the new platform, available for all to enjoy.
The Fantasyland Project, a collaboration between choreographer Daniel Gwirtzman and a cast of sixteen dancers, investigates the notion of fantasy through a range of lenses. Through a very socially distanced process, each dancer was charged with responding to a series of written prompts to spark the conceptual kernel that interested them most. Working with Daniel to distill the intellectual ideas and ground them in a concrete scenario, the process of creating a unique fantasy necessitated finding a location, and collaborating with the choreographer, costumer, and composer. The project reflects this moment in time as a springboard from which to explore the mundane, comedic, dramatic, and the horrific.
"I don't want to see any more dances of dancers in their living rooms," Daniel wrote to the Company dancers when he explained a vision for transforming a cancelled spring/summer performing season into an ambitious film project involving sixteen dancers in sixteen different locations. The project began in July 2019 when Daniel dreamt up the concept and title for the presciently named Fantasyland. "I think this moment in time is one in which we all are fantasizing: about life before, and after, the pandemic. To the extent that this project can reflect the urgent events shaping all of our lives - how this theme of utopia and harmony fits against the current climate - is something the Company is interested in investigating."
The potential benefit of the platform for pre-professional students in dance training programs, as well as professionals, spans learning the craft of choreography, helping to cultivate future choreographers, gaining knowledge about the creative processes, how dancers influence that process, how choreographers work, and how these essential fundamental skills strengthen and support the interpretive work all performers follow.
Monthly Dances to Premiere on the Dance With Us Platform
July 2021: Castillo
Filmed in southern Spain, Castillo was shot on location at The Castillo de Blanca, a castle erected in the 12th century in the Spanish town of Blanca (Region of Murcia). Daniel's daily investigation and interrogation of the site was an arduous and risky process, climbing 730 feet daily underneath the intense summer heat, while the town took siesta, and onto the two towers and risky pinnacle, without being tethered. Watch the trailer https://vimeo.com/533943555 (password: castillo)
August 2021: Adrift and Dandelion
A relationship adrift. Set on a floating dock, the film features a couple together yet apart. Created during the pandemic, Adrift positions the two dancers in close proximity, drifting. Unmoored, yet also contained, abandoned, yet also rooted.
Dandelion. It's a flower. It's a weed. It's music. It's noise. There is attraction. There is disinterest. Fascination. Boredom. We live life straddling opposites, finding difference, labeling things as fact when the eye and ear belong to the beholder. Dandelion attempts to be all these things at once. It is a metaphor for being rooted, for perseverance; it is also a visual collection of poems and a meditation on time, repetition, patterns, burnout, and balance. To enter the world of the dandelion requires slowing down and focusing in, actions quite counter to the pace and scope of most daily life.
September 2021: Back to School: The Lecture
Released for the first time, The Lecture, an evening-length solo that premiered at The Ailey Citigroup Theater in 2010 mixes the serious with the comic, the existential with the everyday. Set to a score of pre-recorded lectures by university professors, The Lecture marries the intellectual and the physical to explore a variety of subjects including the history of language, the science of happiness, the nature of abstraction, mathematics, human evolution, and dreams. Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJQHbqZD-bo.
October 2021: Camo Man Dances
Filmed on location in Ucross, Wyoming, Daniel's alter ego, Camo Man, is out in the wild.
November 2021: Snow Scenes
Before winter comes, the Company shares the possibilities of joy and pleasure in the snow.
December 2021: Just in Time for the Holidays: The Performer
The Performer considers constructions of performance and homes in on the curvilinear separating fantasy from reality and drama from camp. The Performer presents a documentation of an over-the-top artist, a moody bon vivant with a penchant for excess and grand expression who lives large, including in the recesses of his head. The film is shot in the house Picasso gave to the surrealist artist Dora Maar, his famous muse and mistress, when he ended their relationship. Dora, significantly altered, lived and died in this maison in the Provençal village of Ménerbes, France. The film takes inspiration from her life, tackling the schism between the performance of self that one broadcasts to the public, and that which one endures privately. Watch the trailer: https://vimeo.com/344880352.
Jovani Furlan is a soloist with New York City Ballet. Born in Joinville, Brazil, Mr. Furlan started dancing at the age of 11 at The Bolshoi Theater School in Brazil. In 2010 he participated in the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, and was offered a full scholarship to attend the Miami City Ballet School by Edward Villella. Mr. Furlan began his training at the MCB School in 2011 and joined Miami City Ballet in 2012. He was promoted to soloist in 2015 and was named an MCB principal dancer in 2017.
JoAnna Mendl Shaw is a choreographer and teacher whose work stretches the boundaries of traditional dance. The recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Choreographic Fellowships, Shaw has choreographed for dance companies throughout the States and Europe. Shaw is the Artistic Director of The Equus Projects, a company of professional dancers trained in natural horsemanship and committed to the investigation of the dynamic physical dialogue between horses and humans.
Dante Puleio, a widely respected former member of the Limón Dance Company for more than a decade, was appointed only the sixth Artistic Director in the Company's 75-year history, a position that originated with Doris Humphrey. After a diverse performing career with the Limón Dance Company, touring national and international musical theatre productions, television and film, he received his MFA from University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on contextualizing mid 20th century dance for the contemporary artist and audience. He is committed to implementing that research by celebrating José Limón's historical legacy and reimagining his intention and vision to reflect the rapidly shifting 21st century landscape.
Tiffany Rea-Fisher subscribes to the servant leadership model and uses disruption through inclusion as a way to influence her company's culture. In the spring of 2018 Tiffany was award a citation from the City of New York for her cultural contributions. In the summer of 2018 Tiffany was asked to join the Bessies Selection Committee. Tiffany is in her fifteenth year with the NYC-based internationally acclaimed dance company Elisa Monte Dance (EMD) and is in her fourth season as Artistic Director. Tiffany joined EMD in 2004 where she was principal dancer until 2010. She was named Dance Magazine's On the Rise person for their 2007 August issue based on her 2006 performance at the Joyce Theater. As a choreographer Tiffany has had the pleasure of creating numerous pieces for the company as well as being commissioned by Dance Theater of Harlem, Dallas Black Dance Theater, NYC'S Department of Transportation, Utah Repertory Theater, The National Gallery of Art in D.C. and having her work performed for the Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg. Recently Tiffany's works have been seen on the Joyce stage as well the Apollo, Joe's Pub, Aaron Davis Hall, and New York Live Arts in New York City. Tiffany's work extends well beyond the stage creating work for the film, fashion, theater, the music industry, and museums. As well as being EMD's Artistic Director Tiffany is also the Co-Founder of Inception to Exhibition and the Dance Curator for the Bryant Park Dance Summer Series. In 2018 Tiffany added another directorship to her title becoming the Director for the Lake Placid School of Dance in Lake Placid, New York. Tiffany's professional affiliations include being the Vice President of the Stonewall Community Development Corporation, an Advisory Board member of Dance/NYC and a proud member of Women of Color of the Arts. Tiffany has recently completed the National Art Strategies: Chief Executive Program as well as the APAP Leadership Fellows Program.
Seán Curran's career in the arts spans 35 years, beginning with traditional Irish step dancing as a child in Boston. He is known for his performance work with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, for which he was honored with a "Bessie" award for his role in Secret Pastures, and as an original New York City cast member of STOMP! Curran's 30 dance works for his professional ensemble Seán Curran Company are characterized by collaborations across genres and have toured to over 100 venues in the U.S., Europe and Asia. The company recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a season as part of the BAM 2018 Next Wave Festival featuring live music by the Grammy award-winning ensemble, Third Coast Percussion.
A sought-after choreographer and director for opera and theatre, notable commercial projects for Curran include Salome (Opera Theatre of St. Louis, San Francisco Opera, Opera Montreal, San Diego Opera); Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream for The Shakespeare Theater; An American Soldier, 27, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Shalimar the Clown, Ariadne on Naxos, Nixon in China, Daughter of the Regiment, and Champion at Opera Theater of St. Louis; NYC Opera productions of L'Etoile, Alcina, Turandot, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Capriccio, and Acis and Galetea; Shakespeare in the Park's As You Like It; the Metropolitan Opera's Romeo and Juliette; Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream for The Shakespeare Theater; and Broadway's James Joyce's The Dead, Cymbeline, and The Rivals at Lincoln Center Theater.
A graduate and faculty member of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Curran is currently an Arts Professor and Chair of the Department of Dance. He has over 25 years of teaching experience in modern technique, improvisation, body percussion and composition as a visiting artist at the American Dance Festival, Harvard Summer Dance Center, Bates Dance Festival, Boston's Conservatory of Music, and countless U.S. university dance departments and private studios. Curran has created works for The Wooden Floor, The Limon Dance Company, Trinity Irish Dance Company, ABT II, Denmark's Upper Cut Company, Sweden's Skänes Dance Theater, Irish Modern Dance Theatre, Ririe Woodbury Dance Theater, and Dance Alloy.
Irish American Magazine selected Curran as one of its "Top 100" in 2002 and he has been awarded several Choreographer's Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He has performed his solo evening of dances at venues throughout the United States as well as at Sweden's Danstation Theatre and France's EXIT Festival. Happiest when making new work, Curran hopes to continue to be an ambassador for the art of dance by building and educating the dance audiences of tomorrow.
Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company Alumnae
Michael Novak danced with the Company from 2007-2009, performing in the original productions of Encore, Tribe, and Reform, a site-specific dance commissioned by the Queens Museum of Art for its forty-foot high gallery.
Jamie Scott began dancing with Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company shortly after graduating from Barnard College. In her tenure with the company she had the pleasure to work with Daniel on early iterations of Encore and Timebomb. Jamie has also danced for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Trisha Brown Dance Company, Kimberly Bartosik, Bill Young and Liz Gerring. In addition to performing as a freelancer, she teaches and stages work for the Merce Cunningham Trust and Trisha Brown Dance Company.
Stacy Martorana (Wiley) has been a member of the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company since 2006, when she graduated from the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts. She was a company member with the Mark Morris Dance Group for close to a decade, during which time she continued to perform and tour with DGDC. Over the years with the company, she has both loved being a part of the creation of several new dances and having the opportunity to help recreate and perform older repertory. She now lives upstate with her husband and two sons.
Frances Samson is a soloist with the world-renowned Limón Dance Company. She is an artistic collaborator for WHITE WAVE Dance, Frog in Hand, and the multicultural project, The Gravity Between. Frances joined Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company in 2018. She has also had the pleasure of performing for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Walt Disney World, TEDx, Miss Universe Canada, Rotary International and New York Fashion Week.
Oren Barnoy has had the honor to dance for Sarah Michelson, luciana achugar, Emmanuelle Huyn, Hadar Ahuvia, Ben Van Buren, DD Dorvillier, Heather Kravas, and the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company (since 2000). A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts in 2000, his choreography has been shown at Joyce Soho, PS1 MOMA, Dancenow, PS122, Galapagos, WAX, Potsdam Film School (Germany), La MaMa Experimental Theater, JACK, The Kitchen, Danspace and Roulette Intermedium. Oren has been an artist in residence at Dance Theater Workshop, The Tribeca Performing Arts Center, New Dance Alliance, and Mount Tremper Arts.
Christian von Howard is the Artistic Director of the VON HOWARD PROJECT, a contemporary dance company based in New York City. He has danced with the Company since the NYC debut of Plasma Field at the Merce Cunningham Studios in 1999. As an international artist, he has worked with many dance artists such as Fred Benjamin, and Fernando Bujones, and his choreography has been produced in venues across the globe including Europe, South America, Asia, and throughout the US. Christian is an Associate Professor at Montclair State University, on faculty at the Alvin Ailey School, and serves as the Northeast Regional Director of the American College Dance Association. He holds advanced degrees from the School of Classical and Contemporary Dance at Texas Christian University and Tisch School of the Arts, NYU and as a Fulbright Specialist (2019-2021) for the United States.
Cary McWilliam, a founding dancer with the Company, is featured in many works that were created for her during the period spanning 1998-2009. She narrates signature works from the repertory including the highly acclaimed Cycles, Shifting, and Obsession. Even though Cary isn't performing anymore she remains active in the NY dance scene. You can see her spinning herself out of a knot on the end of a dog leash in Central Park or boogeying with her kid as often as he will tolerate. Cary currently teaches for the Joyce Theater's Education program and for the Center for Arts Education.
Derek Crescenti, a Michigan native, has been dancing with Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company since 2011 and has been featured in numerous dances. He has previously danced with Donald Byrd's Spectrum Dance Theater and continues to perform with the Mark Morris Dance Group, touring with productions of L'Allegro and The Hard Nut.
Dwayne Brown is a native New Yorker based out of Harlem, NY. Recent credits include Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and the upcoming film Dragonfire. Dwayne is thrilled to be a part of the Dance With Us Platform Launch. He first began performing with DGDC in 2009 during the New York Musical Theatre Festival run of Encore.
Vanessa Martínez de Baños, dancer, teacher and choreographer, has been dancing with DGDC since 2014. She is the Co-Artistic director of DoubleTake Dance in NYC. Credits include: RSW & associates, Tap It Out, Balasole, L ́Oreal, Heineken, Athleta, NYRoadRunners, Tag Heuer, Yahoo, Ursus Vodka, Lush Cosmetics, X-Box/Kinect (Times Square with NeYo and Lady Sovereign), ABT's "The Golden Cockerel" & "Aurora's Wedding" at the MET. Currently faculty at PMT, Bridge for Dance, Michele Ferraro Dance and Fit Pro in NYC.
Sarah Hillmon, a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, has had the pleasure of working with many New York City based dance companies, including Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Robert Mark Dance, and DanceBoissiere. Sarah is so excited to be working with the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company!
Jacob Butter trained at the Ailey School and graduated from Vassar College, where he was a part of Vassar Repertory Dance Theater and FlyPeople. He has performed works by Kate Weare, Steve Rooks, and Leslie Sachs.
Mariah Anton is a New York based artist who graduated in 2019 from UNC School of the Arts with a BFA in dance. Mariah has been privileged to perform a wide range of work and had the honor of continuing to rehearse and train with Daniel Gwirtzman, the Merce Cunningham Trust, Liz Gerring Dance Company, and Alison Cook-Beatty Dance alongside other freelance projects
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