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BWW Interview: Discussing the D.E.P.T.H. of Dance Education with CAROLYN DORFMAN

Carolyn Dorfman Dance prides itself in being a multi-ethnic dance company that is dedicated to the creation and presentation of contemporary dance that reveals the individual uniqueness and commonality of the human experience. Her choreography has been known to be bold and dramatic that connects life and movement. It also broadens students' knowledge and appreciation of dance in the classroom, in after school programs and curriculum building throughout communities across the country while speaking to contemporary issues.

The company is currently in middle of a three-year fundraising campaign known as the D.E.P.T.H. Initiative, Dance (that) Empowers People to (be more) Human. The funds raised will enable Carolyn Dorfman Dance to bring its school and community programs to those who may not have the resources to afford dance education. The goal is to raise $100,000. At present, the initiative has raised over $26,000.

I had the lovely opportunity to speak with Carolyn Dorfman, the founding Artistic Director of Carolyn Dorfman Dance to further discuss the D.E.P.T.H. Initiative.

Q: Can you speak about what the D.E.P.T.H. Initiative is and what inspired you to launch it?

A: As a company, Carolyn Dorfman Dance has been doing school and community programs for over 35 years. I wanted to help students to be empowered and to educate them with compassion and respect. However, I recognized the need to go into a school or community, regardless if they could afford it or not. The impact that dance can have is great. This experience can help shape students into who they want to be both individually but also as a society. It creates a ripple effect if we are able to impact change one person at a time.

The acronym came from my desire to want people to be more human. I wanted to have a word that was meaningful and would make an impact.

Q: What is dance education to you and why is it important?

A: Dance education is about teaching life through dance. It's about how we can train ourselves to be the best we can be. It's about exploring the commonality of the human story. Now more than ever, we live in a world with an increase in differences of opinions and points of view. The work we do allows us to reflect on our shared experiences, using dance as a vehicle for the metaphor of life.

The timing of expanding and access of this work has never felt more important. Artists have always had a history of reflecting on the contemporary issues of their time. They have often served as citizen artists- utilizing their art form for positive impact on communities from small to large- as defined by the John F. Kennedy Center. To create citizen artists, students need to understand how dance can provide an environment for connecting and communicating with others; how dance can foster clearer understandings; how dance addresses issues and helps us share our thoughts and feelings about events in our lives, communities, nations, and the world; and what is our individual responsibility for finding common ground to address positive human development and change.

Q: What is your vision for this initiative once and after the fundraising goal is met?

A: I see the initiative continuing. We want to be able to invest and continue to deliver programs to underserved communities. It's not about reaching the poor people- it's for everyone! Every person at every (economic) level needs to understand what it means to be human. I have seen over the years that the kids will be forever changed. I want to make them better human beings than when they walked in.

The Carolyn Dorfman Dance education programs include a number of offerings that foster growth in social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and perceptual skills. Programs range from a K-12 curriculum that meets the goals of learning standards; professional development training for teachers to help them learn different tools to utilize dance and movement into the classroom; master classes and choreography workshops to provide students with hands-on experiences of dance making; and lecture demonstration performances that invite audiences to engage in the process of making, doing, and seeing dance.

Ms. Dorfman reminds us that this work isn't new. We've all been doing it a long time. But now is the time to get involved. All donations, whether big or small, matter. If you want to contribute and help make a difference, then please support Carolyn Dorfman Dance and the D.E.P.T.H. Initiative. Even though over $26,000 has been raised, and there is still a little over two years left to reach the $100,000 goal, it doesn't have to stop there! I say let's go above and beyond to invest in dance education!

For more information about Carolyn Dorfman, Carolyn Dorfman Dance or to contribute to the D.E.P.T.H. Initiative, please visit, carolyndorfman.dance.

Photo Credit: Anna Shaffner



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