Arts and Entertainment Editor
David Dorfman Dance, a dance company based out of New York City, gave the Redfern Arts Center a behind-the-scenes look at “(A)Way Out of My Body,” which was presented live at the Redfern in January of 2020.
According to the Keene State website, the behind-the-scenes look examines the three-year period in which the piece was conceived and ends with the February 2020 premier: “One month before the world shut down.”
David Dorfman, the founder of the company, said they were invited last year to perform live, however because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they were unable to perform the full piece this year.
“I don’t want to call it a lecture demonstration… nor is it the full-length dance that we show and then have a question and answer afterwards. It’s kind of a hybrid, where we talk about the conception of it, how it was made, where it’s going,” said Dorfman.
Dorfman said the aim of this presentation was to “engage” the community in lieu of a full, performed piece.
Dorfman talked about the process of putting together ‘(A)Way Out of My Body’.
“It was long,” Dorfman said. “We usually take a couple of years to make any evening-length piece of dance theater. It started in March of 2018.”
Dorfman explained that the “rough premier” was held at Connecticut College, where Dorfman teaches. The Connecticut College run had a “sold out week of shows” Dorfman said. Dorfman seeks to have the New York premier of “(A)Way Out of My Body” in October.
“We [the company] were talking a lot about failing and falling bodies. We were talking about mortality and we were talking about the notion of out-of-body experience,” Dorfman said.
Dorfman also shared the premise of the show, “How much do we know what’s really going on with our body? With the world?”
“I started seeing the bizarre quality of cruelty, brutality, very conservative, autocratic political regimes coming to power worldwide and I was thinking of it as an out-of-body experience,” Dorfman shared regarding the inspiration for ‘(A)Way Out of My Body’.
Dorfman also shared a story of his late mother, Jeanette, who suffered from multiple sclerosis and how that also played a part in the process of choreographing this piece. “[MS] usually comes on in the thirties, this came on in her late 40s…
It hit her pretty hard, she was able to survive a number of years after that,” Dorfman said.
“The more worse that she got, the more limited she got in her movement, the more I wanted to move. It was at a period when I started dancing seriously… I felt the more I danced the more she could move,” Dorfman said.
“I’ve always danced to inspire to heal,” Dorfman continued, Dorfman choreographed a piece where one cast member sat in a chair, representing Dorfman’s mother and Dorfman danced up and down around the seated cast member.
“She saw the show after the first night that she could walk again,” Dorfman shared. “When she woke up, she couldn’t, but she was so happy to have that feeling of freedom. After the last show, she heard music in the next studio, preparing the closing night party. I told her they were dancing next door and she got so inspired.”
Dorfman continued, “It was almost like you see in cartoons, an aroma that’s in the air, and a cat or person, starts to go and their nose starts to follow that aroma. It was almost like the sound waves lifted her body, and she took a few steps, and then she stopped– she couldn’t walk anymore.”
“That moment really, really inspired me towards the notion that even though I’m a firm believer in science, that there’s something more… The notion that there’s inspiration and a spiritual connection in the body that goes beyond what we understand,” Dorfman said.
“We start from scratch,” Dorfman said about the process of his company making pieces, “We don’t know the movement, the words, we use a lot of texts, we build from the ground up and we don’t know what’s going to be included and excluded over time, and I find that magical, and extremely maddening and frustrating.”
Dorfman also said that he feels that the show is unfinished, “I want everything on stage to be compelling in one way or another… I like it to interest the audience, or, I hate to say this, but repulse the audience. I want the audience to have an experience, and I want them to be involved, so if I lose them– I’m not so fond of doing that, and I feel as much as I try– there’s always a few moments, and maybe some key moments that are not quite there.”
According to the ‘(A)Way Out of My Body’ program, Dorfman has choreographed for many companies and productions, including the Deaf West and Pasadena Playhouse production of “Our Town.” Dorfman has also choreographed the Tony Award-winning production of “Indecent” by Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman.
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