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David Dorfman Dance Performs New Work, Conducts Community Outreach 

As part of NC State LIVE’s 50th anniversary season, the internationally acclaimed dance troupe gave a special performance and led guest lectures for the University Honors Program, a master class and community workshops.

A group of people dancing in a studio

NC State LIVE has a rich history of presenting choreographers who are dedicated to embracing audiences with visceral, community-focused work. Internationally renowned dancer David Dorfman is one of these change-making choreographers who has shaped the contemporary dance field with his “full throttle, big-hearted” works.

This month, Dorfman and his dance troupe returned to NC State for the fourth time since 1995 to share his passion for dance with the Triangle community through a residency and special performance for NC State LIVE’s 50th anniversary season. For the performance, Dorfman performed his newest work, (A)Way Out of My Body, created as he was caring for his ailing parents. The piece is described as an offering of healing, a journey through life’s inevitable pain to find our capacity for joy. Following the show, Dorfman, his dancers and creative team held a post-show talk with the audience.

“An NC State LIVE anniversary celebration would be incomplete without the remarkable David Dorfman and his company of talented dancers,” said Sharon Moore, director of NC State LIVE. “Returning to Stewart Theatre for the fourth time since 1995, David is unparalleled in his ability to engage audiences and share with them the almost magical power of dance to unite us in a shared experience and create community. His goal? Get the whole world dancing!”

True to his mission “to get the whole world dancing,” Dorfman also conducted a series of outreach events during his residency. At NC State, he was a guest lecturer for two University Honors Forums, where he and his dancers led an interactive lecture that included discussions and screenings of their past work, a conversation about the troupe’s process, danced excerpts of (A)Way Out of My Body, and a lively question and answer session. Also at NC State, Dorfman and company member Alex Diaz led a “Movement is Necessary” master class co-presented by the NC State Dance Program, where they explored the question, “How do we navigate toward positive change, resilience and empathic behavior?”

Two people on a stage raise their right hands as part of a dance move while a saxophonist plays and two other men stand in the background
Dorfman and his dancers led an interactive lecture for a University Honors Forum.

Beyond NC State, Dorfman presented a “Moving with Momentum” workshop at the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C. Along with Dorfman, company member Claudia Lynn Rightmire presented the free class which included concepts such as a weighted and grounded approach to movement, harnessing the body’s momentum and force (“throwing your weight around”), varying approaches to physical contact, emphasis on intent and focus, and compositional choices through improvisation.

People lay on the ground with outstretched hands as part of a dance master class
Dorfman and company member Alex Diaz led a “Movement is Necessary” master class co-presented by the NC State Dance Program

Another impactful outreach event was a movement workshop with Raleigh Parks and Recreation’s English as a Second Language class at the Peach Road Community Center. The classes are held in conjunction with Welcome House, an organization that helps recent refugees and immigrants settle in the area by providing housing and other immigration services. In this particular class, Dorfman and Rightmire explored movement exercises, patterns and rhythm as a means to learn and practice English, build community and create joy across cultures with their students.

Andrew Bynom, a volunteer teacher at Peach Road Community Center, explained that this particular class consisted of Afghan women who were forced to leave their country last year as well as students from Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. 

“At first, the Afghan women were wary of the word ‘dance’ — especially in public,” Bynom said. “They watched and listened until David got them moving too, a step and a gesture at a time.”

Liza Green, associate director for NC State LIVE, helped coordinate the outreach events.

“Choreographers like David Dorfman have the innate ability to bring people together at a human level,” Green said. “And right now, I feel like we’re all in need of human connection. Dance may seem scary at first, but there’s something about David’s (and his dancers’) warmth, sincerity, and humor that pulls you in. He has built many relationships over the years at NC State and in the surrounding communities. This residency was an opportunity to rekindle some of those connections and build new ones.”

Learn more and check out the remaining schedule for NC State LIVE’s 50th anniversary season here: