Finding the balance between life and dance

Dorfman in his 2013 piece
Come, and Back Again

Take a look at David Dorfman’s agenda and you might start to feel inadequate. When he’s not chairing Connecticut College’s dance department or rehearsing with his own company, you might find him sitting down to dinner with his wife (fellow Connecticut College faculty member Lisa Race) and 12-year-old son—or else he’ll be practicing the accordion or saxophone or teaching himself to play the guitar. Throw in his upcoming State Department–sponsored and Brooklyn Academy of Music–produced DanceMotion USA tour to Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, where he and his company will hold workshops, outreach events and performances, and you’ll realize you’re either dealing with a madman or a magician.

Dorfman is neither, though you could argue that his ability to create explosive, floor-pummeling dances that also manage to give your heartstrings a good tug is a form of magic. Full of infectious joy at his good fortune, he sees the excitement that awaits him in each new opportunity and uses that to catapult himself from one project to the next. And now, with his monthlong DanceMotion tour, he’s got the chance to spread that enthusiasm around—with an added bonus: This summer, Dorfman will welcome one dance company from his travels to join his own dancers in the U.S. for artistic exchange, ending with a week of collaboration and performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in August.

The real objective behind his DanceMotion USA tour: “We’re taking eight dancers, me as artistic director, a technical director and then a tour manager—it’s quite an entourage. We’re very interested in learning what dance exists in these countries. There’s more than what we can find on YouTube. In the past, I’ve referred to what dancers do as kinetic diplomacy, and I think that’s at the heart of what the State Department is inviting us to do. It’s really cultural exchange.”

About his course load at CC: “I just taught a general-education dance course for folks who have never danced before, dubbed ‘Movers and Shakers.’ I had them doing tendus and singing David Bowie songs with our live band at our little showing. It brought me back to my roots in dancing—I took my first class as a junior in college. I had a blast.”

Why he won’t give any of it up: “It’s exciting, taxing and rewarding. I get to mingle with different age groups. In college, they’re usually 17 to 22 years old, and they’re just committing to dance or flirting with dance. I’m really attached to that nurturing process, and their fresh ideas are really inspiring. And then I get to work with folks in their mid-20s and 30s in our dance company, and that’s a different sense of collaboration. Then I get to go home and hear what’s going on in math class with my 12-year-old.” DT

Education: BS in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis; MFA, Connecticut College

Career: danced with Susan Marshall & Company; founded David Dorfman Dance in 1985

Teaching credits: professor and chair of the dance department at Connecticut College

Photo by Ian Douglas, courtesy of Lauren Morrow

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