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 (same program repeated on three successive evenings) with the premieres of the films and the reveal of the platform, a website whose URL will go live at this moment. The evening will be hosted by emcees Daniel and guest Dante Puleio, Artistic Director of the Limón Dance Company. The kickoff events include an exclusive guided tour of the website, a screening of several short films, the World Premieres of Willow and Dollhouse, and previews of six new dance films that will launch monthly through the end of 2021. The events are free with advance registration requested at https://dgdc-dancewithus.eventbrite.com/. Watch the trailer at https://vimeo.com/477005623/da16bc6f95.
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: https://www.paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/1394866.
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
8:00-8:30pm: After Party
“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.”
Amuse-Bouche: Parade, a two-minute film for the ensemble, acts as a curtain for the evening.
Tour of the Site: Like walking through the rooms of a house, the platform will be revealed and explained.
Watch excerpts of the pedagogical films.
View the Library, an archive of dance films and filmed performances documenting the Company’s history.
Be among the first to watch a suite of new films produced during the pandemic.
Featured films Willow and Dollhouse.
Sneak Peek at the upcoming dances to be launched this year.
Willow and Dollhouse. These films 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.
Each night, the Company will host a 30-minute interactive dance party, with Daniel (and guest Dante Puleio opening night) 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.
Then stay with us immediately after for an interactive half-hour to cool down and continue the conversation of dance, an open forum where viewers can engage directly with the Company.
A teaching and performing organization celebrating its 22nd 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. This April 16, the Company’s acclaimed film Terrain (2015) screens at the Videoskin Festival in Nepal. Watch the 40-second trailer at 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 films will be short, with some hewing to the one-minute length Instagram allows to be shared as one discrete video. Carved into digestible, bite-sized nuggets of content, each mini-film will highlight strands of choreography with corollary movement insights.
The platform will:
Present favorite dances from the repertory, with bonus voiceovers to be played on demand, hearing from the creative players involved.
Capture the unique energy and charisma of the company through individual interviews, learning about each dancer’s trajectory toward professionalism in their own voice and through their own words.
Gain insights into the dancers’ perspectives and understand how they train and prepare for the particular demands of dance.
Define dance’s concepts and discuss how dances are made. As an example, the range of topics includes a significant musical component: learning to count to music, to learn patterns, to focus on the manipulation of time/timing, and the complexities of rhythm and polyrhythm.
Focus on what to look for in a dance and how.
Discuss how to gain comfort viewing and speaking about dance.
Explain how dance can be a career and a subject of lifelong study.
Provide health and wellness best practices.
Teach simple, fun, easy-to-learn dances anyone can enjoy regardless of ability, experience, age, or physicality (while Dance With Us is neither a course to follow nor a series of instructions, there are dances which are taught, adding to the high interactivity of the platform.
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 at: https://vimeo.com/533943555 (password: castillo)
August 2021: Adrift
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.
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 at https://vimeo.com/344880352.
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.
About Daniel and Dante
Daniel and Dante, known as D and D, will co-host opening night’s launch. Known through the National Dance Education Organization, as a dynamic dj team, the duo has kept the party going for the past three years running, starting in La Jolla, CA (2018), then to Miami, FL (2019), before hitting a feverish pitch for NDEO’s first annual conference. Their choreographed antics bring full-on theatricality and full-on spirit to any dance party. View them in action: https://vimeo.com/532033432/d65734f42b.