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David Orr, Founder Of Boston Moving Arts Productions, On Dance’s Power To Open The Floodgates Of Emotion

David Orr, Founder Of Boston Moving Arts Productions, On Dance’s Power To Open The Floodgates Of Emotion
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Published on November 5, 2019
Photo Courtesy of Boston Moving Arts

"In My Heart" Runs November 8-9 at Boston Center for the Arts

Producer David Orr loves dance so much—especially local dance—you almost expect he'll burst open when talking about it.  It's a surprising side gig for a guy whose day job is Global IT Project Manager for a major pharmaceuticals company in Cambridge. With his Boston Moving Arts Productions company mounting its second annual evening of regional dance—anchored by his third commissioned work from a local choreographer—Orr is aiming straight for people's emotions, hoping to get them as excited as he is.  The show, "In My Heart," runs November 8-9 at Boston Center for the Arts. It features new or recently created pieces by Back Bay's Whitney Schmanski, Cambridge's Chavi Bansal, Boston's Aysha Upchurch, and Dartmouth, Mass. choreographer Ali Kenner Brodsky. And as the title suggests, Orr promises an evening filled with intense feelings of love, loss and lots more in between.  Heck, he's even writing poetry about his reactions to each work for the program book.

Tickets & More Information:


Dance Enthusiast, and Producer David Orr

Sammi Lim for The Dance Enthusiast: Given the title of the show, we'd like to know what’s in your heart. Describe two major life experiences that were taxing & uplifting:

What was probably the most taxing experience that has cast the longest and deepest shadow is the moment I comprehended that my mom and dad were getting divorced. I was 10. Up to that point, I lived the idyllic suburban family with a mother, father and sister. My mother was an artist, talented in many forms of media, from wood to paint to metal. My sister and I would put on dance performances for my parents after dinner.

Then that awful moment when that strange woman we were seeing every week asked how I felt that my parents were getting a divorce. At that moment I felt my entire dissolve and blow away in the winds of fear and doubt.

It took 37 years of emotional isolation and suppressed creativity to experience the profound and life changing moment that put a crack in the emotional armor I had so carefully nurtured.

Despite my sister being a ballerina and spending hours with the sites, sounds and smells of the studio, it took a single performance by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet to alter the course of my history.

To this day, I cannot think of that performance without tears. Somehow, the beauty, strength and exquisite artistic expression awakened a sense of my own beauty and humanity. That the commonality of human beings is a safe love shared between us all.

Watching dance reminds me of my own humanity while also filling me with the tender sadness that my body will never be so exquisitely expressive. I have never been an active person. It wasn't until I allowed the dancer's spirit to touch my heart, that I began to embrace my own physicality. And with that, I am proud to say that I am taking a tap class.

Aspen Sante Fe Ballet in Nicolo Fonte's  "The Heart(s)pace." Photo by Sharen Bradford

Have you seen the Aspen Sante Fe Ballet perform since?

I will see them any time they tour New England. Sadly, that has happened only one time since.

What are some of your other favourite dance companies?

Crystal Pite's work is my most favorite by far. I have a special fondness for her company Kidd Pivot. Jiri Kylian's work is also stunning, along with the wonderful creativity of Doug Varone.

Is it safe to say that Boston Moving Arts Productions aims to convey the same emotion you felt at that ‘baptismal’ performance?

Absolutely! That is the ultimate goal. I know it takes only one such experience to completely change the trajectory of someone's life. And with that change comes unwavering support for the dance community and its acceptance into mainstream culture.

The choreographers presenting work at "In My Heart."

How do the works by Aysha Upchurch, Ali Kenner Brodsky, Chavi Bansal and Whitney Schmanski touch on matters of the heart?

Each piece is uniquely powerful in and of itself.

Aysha's piece will warm your heart. Aysha is an amazing storyteller who awakens the familial connection we have, or wish we had, for family.

Ali's piece will break your heart. It is quiet and small, full of humble desire that culminates in a tender yet brief encounter.

Chavi's piece finds us in that difficult and vulnerable place of trying and failing—and trying again—to express the profound connections of love and motherhood.

Whitney's piece is an exquisite display of sincere love. There were many moments during rehearsal that brought me to tears watching the constantly moving entangled love of their duet.

Promotional poster for "In MY Heart."

It’s  endearing that you’ve written poetry for the program. Might we have a sneak peek?

I would not call it poetry necessarily, but more poetic prose. I commissioned Whitney's piece and wrote the following to help guide her:

I am open to you. Open to your heart. Open to your touch that so gently caresses my tender love for you. Open to your strength that wraps me in the goodness of your being. Smooth and long movement shifting and changing with sinuous deliberation. A brilliant body flexing and bending with the ebb and flows of each of our passing. The passionate gaze of joy knowing I am at my best.

I am open to you. Open to your divinity, your spirit that shimmers with grace echoing through our space together.

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