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Interview with Carolyn Dorfman, Founder of Carolyn Dorfman Dance


Carolyn Dorfman Dance is celebrating its 40th season. In these years of delivering spectacular performances and quality dance education, the company continues to "connect life and dance in bold, athletic, and dramatic works by Carolyn Dorfman and nationally renowned choreographers." Carolyn Dorfman Dance has touched the world with its powerful art and dance, appearing in major theaters, dance festivals, schools, and more all over the globe.

Carolyn Dorfman, choreographer, founding Artistic Director of Carolyn Dorfman Dance, and role model for girls and women, spoke with the Garden State Woman Education Foundation about her inspiring career and passion.

  • How did you begin your career as a dancer and as the founder of Carolyn Dorfman Dance?

"It was a long time ago," she laughed. Dorfman explained that when she graduated with her master's degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she wanted to teach at the university level, so she acquired a job at Centenary College. But she also wanted to create work. She decided that she would get a group of dancers together and put on a concert. Dorfman continued with some of those dancers and continued to put on events and performances. Through this work, she realized that she wanted to speak through her art. The group she began grew as more dancers started working together. This growth led the group to become a 501c3, which enabled Dorfman to gain support through various means. Dorfman's goal was to build the structure of an organization that would support the making of dance and dancers. Carolyn Dorfman Dance was incorporated in 1982. Dorfman had the vision for a company that valued the uniqueness of each dancer, created a dance community, and had a strong arts education program.

  • What is the process like of choreographing dances and creating performances?

Dorfman says that she is inspired by many different aspects of life; she is interested in the human story. As a choreographer and dancer, dancing is her language. She says it is her job to speak through dance about life experiences. She is interested in the full range of the human story—from the most painful to the most joyful scenarios. Dorfman then went on to explain a significant part of her life that is integral to her art. She says, "I am a child of Holocaust survivors, and this has shaped who I am." She says that this informs her work and that it has taught her about the value of the unique story and the unique voice. Dorfman says that the process of choreographing is exhilarating. Creating performances for her is "transmitting and creating metaphors" for all of these different ideas in life.

  • What life lessons do people learn from dance?

"Dance is a metaphor for life," Dorfman began. The idea is that the instrument of the dancer is the same instrument we have in life: our body. "When we train as dancers, we train our instrument, our body. We train our thinking, breathing, and creativity." She says that people learn about the power of center-driven movement physically, and the power of moving from your core and center psychologically. People learn to understand how to exist in relation to others, how to express themselves from the inside out, and have an appreciation for the expressions of others. "There are so many life lessons in dance. That is the way I teach, it's the way I live, and it is absolutely the way I create."

  • Do you have any advice for people who are starting to learn to dance? Do you think that there is a certain age that people should start learning how to dance?

Dorfman explains that at different ages, there are different aspects of dance that should be emphasized. Technical training and learning to fine-tune one's instrument should be done at an older age. But for younger children and really for all ages, people need to focus on the creative energy of real movements like skipping, hopping, jumping, and feeling music, space, time, and energy. Additionally, dance is a way to transmit culture, so learning dances from other cultures teach us about others. "Dance is for everyone," says Dorfman. "Allowing for creative expression, at any age, is critical."

Visit the Carolyn Dorfman Dance website here

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Monday, 25 September 2023
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