Q&A With Daniel Gwirtzman

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Photo Credit: Lois Greenfield

Q. What are some of the things you love about Washington Heights?

A. Your first question is one I am happy to answer, as I indeed do love Washington Heights. My mother was born in the Heights and her family has photographs of the George Washington Bridge being constructed. Besides the personal connection to the neighborhood, it is a locus of Native American, American and geological history. Inwood Hill Park, inhabited since prehistoric times, is an actual forest in Manhattan and a repository of glacial activity. Fort Tryon Park, another reminder of the Revolutionary War, is a jewel in Manhattan’s crown with the Heather garden, Linden Terrace, and The Cloisters. I love the hilly streets that afford vistas uncommon in other parts of the City, the majesty of the Hudson River and the pristine Palisades, untouched thanks to John D. Rockefeller’s donation, insuring that this land will remain undeveloped in perpetuity. I love the generational and ethnic diversity, the unparalleled Dominican chicken from Malecon, Highbridge Park’s Olympic size outdoor pool, free in the summer, the art deco architecture along Fort Washington and the spaciousness of the apartments.

Q. What is the Dance at the gym series all about?

A. The series is about combining performances, lectures and teaching workshops together to give an audience an intimate, hands-on dance experience and an understanding of how dances are made. Each Dance at the Gym event will focus on a theme fundamental to dance. For our first, on April 17th, the focus will be on the body, the dancer’s instrument. Before choreography, and dancers, can be put together, there has to be an understanding of this solo instrument: how it is cared for, maintained, its range, and its concerns. Each of the DATG events will feature the dancers performing new choreography that will eventually form a new dance, titled Reforming, to premiere July 24th, the culminating day of our summer festival. Audience members will learn how to speak about dance and have the chance to interact with the dancers very closely through movement exercises, as well as through question and answer sessions. This idea of breaking down the barrier between the audience and the performer and of sharing the process of how we work as dancers in creating and interpreting choreography is central to our mission, and to these events. Other DATG events will focus on partnering, form, and dance’s relationship to music. The Company is collaborating with Jeff Story, a Philadelphia-based composer, who will be in attendance to discuss the process of creating a new score for a dance company. The programs are highly interactive. Come in comfortable clothing and prepared to dance!

Q. What is the summer dance festival?

A. In partnership with the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood, Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company offers a two-week program of day long dance training open to students of all ages and abilities from 12 up through professionals held at the Y. Running Monday, July 11-Sunday July 24 (Saturdays are off; complete schedule on the Company’s website), the festival offers daily technique, repertory, composition and master classes with exciting guest artists. Last year, when we piloted the festival, we had a tremendous response to our master class series (which one can register for independent of the entire teaching schedule). Students have the opportunity to study with the dance company and with performers from current Broadway shows, and professionals in other physical genres, including acrobatics, tap, folk, hip-hop, and Pilates. Students will have the opportunity to create their own dances and show these on a culminating performance day, alongside the premiere of the Company in Reforming.

Q. What is the underlying philosophy behind the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company?

A. That everyone can learn to dance! Anyone with the interest and dedication to learn dance, can. Our programming is all designed to make dance accessible, entertaining and educational. Dance is a unique blend of athleticism and creativity, a discipline that challenges the entire body and mind to work harmoniously. Our goal is to introduce the art of dance as this fusion of supreme physical control and expressivity. Feeling good in one’s body and cultivating an overall sense of well-being is central to our philosophy. Making our programming accessible to the general community is also the reason why the DATG events are free, however we are in great need of support. Please visit our Kickstarter page to learn more about the programs, to spread the word to other people, and to consider supporting the program: http://kck.st/fWqdO8

Check out: http://www.gwirtzmandance.org/ [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV64kKbgbXk&feature]

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