David Dorfman Dance aims to give Jackson an out-of-body experience

Founder David Dorfman and composer Liz de Lise join KHOL to discuss the inspiration behind new production "(A) Way Out of My Body."
New York City's David Dorfman Dance company returns to Jackson this weekend with performances of "(A) Way Out of My Body." (Trisha French)

by | Oct 13, 2022 | Community Events, Culture

Since the mid-1980s, New York City-based David Dorfman Dance has been one of the nation’s leading modern dance companies. Dorfman’s work has been commissioned widely in the United States and Europe and has garnered multiple awards and fellowships throughout the company’s four decades of existence.

The company’s latest production, entitled “(A) Way Out of My Body,” welcomes the audience into the otherworldliness of dreams, desires and connectivity, as well as new worlds awaiting discovery.

Presented by Dancers’ Workshop, “(A) Way Out of My Body” will be performed at the Center Theater on Friday, October 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 15 at 4 p.m.

In advance of the performances, the company’s artistic director and founder David Dorfman and singer/songwriter and music composer Liz de Lise joined us recently in the KHOL studios.

Listen above for more and check out a transcript of the interview below. This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

KHOL/JACK CATLIN: What is the concept behind “(A) Way Out of My Body” and what can theatergoers expect to see this coming weekend?

DAVID DORFMAN: They have done such incredible music on this and I will say that please, come one come all, I will offer your money back if you don’t like this show. The visuals are absolutely stunning by the theater artist Andrew Schneider. And they’re meant to break up bodies, to fracture, to rupture, to make us doubt how many people are on stage, how we feel, where our bodies are. And that’s kind of where it started, Jack. I’ll go back to 2016. There was this election in this country. I don’t know if you remember it. And I felt that the whole world was like an out-of-body experience. So that was my sense of [the] political [side of things]. The other is personal in that I was not having a good body time. I was plagued with some stuff that got me out of action for a while after I realized that I was in denial on a bunch of stuff and I just didn’t tend to it, but I didn’t know my body. So it’s like, ‘Whoa, this thing that’s really important to me is my living.’ I don’t know. It made me think. And then I started to go back to childhood and think about out-of-body experiences that I would have sitting in a field thinking I wasn’t there, that I was an apparition, that I was maybe a puppet on strings of some great being in some Borges story or something. And I still have those feelings and they’re feelings [I have] when I’m around loved ones, people I really care about, and in really good moods. And so there’s just this idea of reality started to just kind of enter my soul. And so for all those reasons, I came up with this title based on out-of-body experiences and asked the company if they were interested. And everybody was. And then it also became about a serious need for connection. And then it wandered into life and death. We took a pause during Covid, like so many people did, because it had a rough premiere just before Covid, and then we’ve redone it. This is version 2.0 that I adore. So that’s kind of where it began and I think where it came to. And it’s just to offer invitations and questions to the audience and to us as performers.

LIZ DE LISE: One of the things that comes to mind when I ask that question is that New Yorker article [you did with Sam Crawford]. And I just remember one of the main aspects of the article was talking about how virtual reality can be used to rehabilitate different kinds of people who have committed certain crimes, essentially, and can be used to literally take them out of their bodies and put them into someone else’s body using these VR headsets. So often in my own experience, I think about, ‘Oh, what I need to be, I need to be grounded in order to have … a really clear perspective.’ But I love when David proposed this idea for a piece because it was like, oh, wait, what if you also actually need to get out, not just get outside of yourself, but get outside of your physical self? And it’s something I think about a lot as well. And especially around that time in 2016, just in my own experience, I was finally starting to come into my gender identity and my identity as a queer person. And so much of that has to do with how I see my body and how I hold my body in spaces. And I think no matter how you identify, we all navigate it right? We all have these bodies and we have to negotiate them in space and time.

Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with David Dorfman and Liz de Lise.

This coverage is funded in part with an Arts For All grant provided by the Town of Jackson and Teton County.

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About Jack Catlin

Jack is KHOL's music director. He says all music is in some way connected no matter the style and his mission is to provide listeners with a unique and memorable experience each time they tune in to KHOL or see him DJ live.

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