New York-based nonprofit performing and teaching organization Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company announces the opening of Dance With Us. The online platform's doors are now open! Available at https://dancewithus.org.
Centered around the premiere of a series of new dance films, the launch of Dance With Us was celebrated with a live program from June 25-27, 2021. The weekend, attended by 250 guests, included premieres of the films and the reveal of the platform, with Daniel Gwirtzman as emcee and special guests Dante Puleio, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Seán Curran, and Michael Novak.
The Dance With Us platform is now live. Featured on the site are exclusive narrated video clips from all of the premiere's special guests, as well as an exclusive guided tour at https://www.dancewithus.org/site-tour which provided the first inside peek of the site from Daniel. And so much more! Make sure to visit the HOME page https://www.dancewithus.org/ for a visual overview of all featured content.
The biggest highlight of the evening was the screening of the three world premieres: the colorful Parade, the powerful Willow, and the playful Dollhouse. All are available for public screening thanks to the Company's commitment to contribute this digital resource widely and freely, contributing to the Open Educational Resources movement (OER), a commitment to equity, inclusion, and access.
The launch weekend ignited with a festive, pride-focused ribbon-cutting ritual initiated by each evening's guest artist. The swift-moving program took 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. Each month, a new slate of film premieres will launch on the platform.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM DANIEL'S LIVE DISCUSSION WITH THE GUESTS
"That's what this project is about – discovering the process that leads up to the product," said Daniel Gwirtzman, founder, Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company. "And for dancers and artists in general, it's the process where you spend most of your time – most of the blood, sweat, and tears, the joys the struggles, happens in the studio and not on the stage. Revealing that process is exciting, vulnerable, and full of new information for the audience, the dancers, and myself."
"Modern dance gets this rap of being full of angst and it's understandable that it's the least understood. The idea of this platform is to deliver on a philosophy that the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company has been sharing its whole twenty-three years which is that everyone can join in and dance."
"Even for those who don't have experience in or exposure to dance, concert dance in particular, modern contemporary dance even more specifically, this platform and all its content to learn and watch and learn and watch is an immersive experience. As with learning a new language, the best way is to immerse oneself in it."
"The narration component is essential. There are books, there are places to learn about how to make dances, but to be able to see it, and more importantly, to be able to hear it – the idea is to empower all of us as viewers away from scratching our heads and saying 'I don't get it.' You should have a chance to reach into the choreographer's toolbox and be able to have some vocabulary, develop dance literacy, and trust the ideas, opinions, and feelings you have when experiencing a dance."
"What good is history if it's all locked in a chest. Who hears the dances when they fall in the woods and no one's there? Do they make a sound? This has been an essential awareness throughout my career. We're overworked, underfunded, underpaid, and we're making work that may have been seen only for one season. How do those artifacts live? And so, it felt time, after twenty plus years, to be able to codify pedagogy, to create a more permanent home, to be able to give justice to the dancers and the collaborators, to provide the proper credit for these years of work."
"With this platform we share behind the scenes, we demystify it all. It's not fair to have it all be smoke and mirrors when there's so much work and heart that goes into it and support is needed."
FROM SPECIAL GUESTS AT THE LIVE EVENTS
"In this moment we're seeing so much more dance on film which allows us to reach a wider audience. I think we're going through a lot of change right now – personally, individually. we're looking at how we behave and how we interact with one another, so to see that come to life in six minutes was really impactful," said Dante Puleio, former Artistic Director, Limón Dance Company.
"Daniel was able to create depth in two dimensions which I've discovered is hard as we have all had to shift towards a digital format. I sometimes miss the depth an in-person proscenium or theatre gives us and he was able to create that effortlessly and beautifully," said Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Artistic Director, Elisa Monte Dance. "With this format that includes talkback sessions, being able to demystify our process and bring audiences closer to our craft is amazing and necessary. We lose nothing in sharing how we do what we do. I think sometimes people shy away from dance because it can be more abstract and this gives them entry points without pretense. It really comes from a place of community. I strongly believe that everyone is a dance lover, they may just not know it yet, I think this is a good way for them to learn this art form is for you."
"As someone who teaches composition and choreography at the university level, Dance with Us is a wonderful reminder of not just what we do, but how we do it – it's the postmodern choreographer's toolbox. It makes me want to run off right now and make a dance," said Seán Curran, founder, Seán Curran Company.
"I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Daniel and the Gwirtzman Family as they launch this exciting new endeavor. Dance with Us is an opportunity for dancers, dance lovers, patrons, and audiences to take a deep dive into the world of concert dance – to learn why dancers and choreographers do what they do, how they do it, and why they love it. I hope you enjoy this special opportunity to connect in new ways, and a special thank you to Daniel for his vision and his passion to make yet another dream an incredible reality," said Michael Novak, Artistic Director, Paul Taylor Dance Company; Alumnus, Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company. Please visit the platform to view Michael's full greeting.
The event highlighted some of the many films narrated by performers on the platform, including alumnae Michael Novak, Jamie Scott, Stacy Martorana (Wiley), Frances Samson, Christian von Howard, Cary McWilliam, and Oren Barnoy. A highlight of the launch event was 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 had hitherto never been viewed publicly). Guests Jovani Furlan, JoAnna Mendl Shaw, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Sean Curran, and Dante Puleio have also provided film narration for permanent viewing on the platform. Another highlight of the launch was exclusive commentary by New York City Ballet soloist Jovani Furlan, contextualizing The Brazil Series, which the Company produced in Bahia (2013). Films were narrated by current company dancers including Derek Crescenti, Vanessa Martínez de Baños, Dwayne Brown, Sarah Hillmon, Jacob Butter, and Mariah Anton, among others.
A newly edited version of last year's acclaimed The Fantasyland Project is also on the platform. This, along with the three premieres, was produced during the pandemic. The inaugural exhibit of the Dance With Us Photo Gallery displays a collection of never-before released photographs taken of the Company by Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival photographer Christopher Duggan. Mixing discussions, dancing, and conversations, the interactive premiere was highly accessible, entertaining, educational, and drew rave reviews from supporters and strangers alike.
"Central to 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. 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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Platform Tour: https://dancewithus.org/site-tour
The Fantasyland Project: https://dancewithus.org/the-fantasyland-project
Michael Novak: Tribe: https://dancewithus.org/tribe
Jovani Furlan: Chegada: https://dancewithus.org/chegada
JoAnna Mendl Shaw: Sisyphus: https://dancewithus.org/sisyphus
Dante Puleio: Well Git It!: https://dancewithus.org/well-git-it
Tiffany Rea-Fisher: Character: https://dancewithus.org/character
Seán Curran: Doodling: https://dancewithus.org/doodling
"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 Anniversary, Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company has demonstrated a commitment to education since its inception and 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 garnered attention. Donations, accepted via the Company's PayPal Giving Fund, help to fund the construction of the platform, which includes custom closed captioning. https://www.paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/1394866.
Guests & Dancers
Guests at the Dance With Us launch included Jovani Furlan, JoAnna Mendl Shaw, Dante Puleio, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, and Seán Curran. Current Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company members include Derek Crescenti, Dwayne Brown, Vanessa Martínez de Baños, Sarah Hillmon, Jacob Butter, and Mariah Anton. Company alumnae include Michael Novak, Jamie Scott, Stacy Martorana (Wiley), Frances Samson, Oren Barnoy, Christian von Howard, and Cary McWilliam. Learn more about collaborators at https://dancewithus.org/collaborators and current company members at https://www.dancewithus.org/dancers.
About Daniel Gwirtzman
Daniel Gwirtzman–producer, director, educator, filmmaker and dancer–celebrates twenty-six years as a New York choreographer and company director. His diverse repertory has earned praise for its humor, stylistic versatility, musicality, charisma and accessibility. "A flair for the entertaining," says critic Elizabeth Zimmer. "Mr. Gwirtzman does know that in dance less can be more. And that's a good thing for any choreographer to know" writes The New York Times. The New Yorker describes him as a choreographer of "high spirits and skill."
For the New York City-based Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company, he has created more than one hundred repertory works known for their playful virtuosity, blending robust physicality with universal themes. His choreography has been performed at venues throughout the country and abroad. He has been awarded commissions, residencies and fellowships from institutions including the Joyce Theater Foundation (NY), Ucross Foundation (WY), The Studios at Key West (FL), Aktuelle Architektur der Kultur (Spain), Dora Maar House (France), The Yard (MA), Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival (MA), CUNY Dance Initiative (NYC), Djerassi Resident Artists Program (CA), Sfakiotes (Greece), Gdański Festiwal Tanca (Poland), Raumars (Finland) and the Sacatar Foundation (Brazil).
A master teacher, Gwirtzman has worked at numerous universities. He has been a full-time faculty member at SUNY Buffalo State, Kennesaw State University, and The University of the Arts and is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Ithaca College's renown Department of Theatre Arts (2019-present). Daniel holds degrees from The University of Michigan and The University of Wisconsin. He danced in the companies of Garth Fagan Dance and the Mark Morris Dance Group among others. He co-founded Artichoke Dance Company in 1995, which The New York Times called "a welcome addition to the New York dance scene." As a dancer he has been described as "a willowy John Travolta, sensual, playful, a rag doll, unusually supple, and one who moves like the wind."
About Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company
With a large repertory noted for its entertaining flair, stylistic diversity, musicality, and humor, DGDC consistently delivers high-energy performances. Blending virtuosic precision with pedestrian ease, the dancers are renown for their charisma. The Company is "a troupe I'd follow anywhere" (The Village Voice), a "troupe of fabulous dancers" (Back Stage) that "can't help but smile" (The New Yorker). Operating with the philosophy that everyone can join the dance, DGDC has demonstrated a commitment to education since its inception in 1998. The Company's interactive programming, known for its infectious energy and accessibility, captivates the greatest common denominator among diverse populations and provides a range of innovative, accessible programming. The Company is known equally for its innovative choreography and for its family-friendly events and community-building projects. DGDC thrives on collaborations with cultural organizations and institutions. All of the programs are tailored through an active collaboration with local presenters. They are interested in a touring model where community exchange bookends projects in extended ways and technology plays a key role and seek to bridge the divide separating dance from the mainstream culture, underscoring the primacy, purpose, and possibility of dance in contemporary life. The Company believes that dance's power to shift people's perceptions and identities, one person at a time, can create transformative ripples into society at large.