Postmodern choreographer David Dorfman grew
up watching experimental theater, so it makes
sense that elements like text, abstract set design
and socially conscious through-lines pepper his
work. Choreographing for theater seems like a
natural next step. The opening of Indecent this
month marks Dorfman’s first outing as a Broadway
choreographer. The play is about the making of
God of Vengeance, a 1923 Broadway production
based on a landmark Yiddish play, and deals with
homosexuality and freedom of expression.
How did you get involved in Indecent?
I’ve known Rebecca Taichman, one of the creators,
for 13 years or so now. We did a project together
called Green Violin in Philadelphia.
What research went into choreographing this
I did more research for this than I normally do.
Some of it is a bit tongue-in-cheek. In order to
do that you have to get in deep about the hand
gestures and rhythms of Hasidic dance. I don’t
believe that we have to produce a totally authentic
version. But you have to know exactly where something comes from in order to stray.
What’s been challenging for you?
I guess procedure. In theater you have to have
Will you take anything you learned to your
prescribed break times, where in dance sometimes
we’ll work hours without taking breaks: “Do you
need to eat or go to the bathroom? Nope? Okay,
because we’re on a roll.” The work pattern in the-
ater is more humane, but sometimes we’re right on
the edge of something…
choreography for dance?
The humbling moment for me is learning that
there are movements that might be legible and
exciting in dance that just don’t work for this play.
It’s about what is needed right now, right here,
with these bodies in space. It’s made me question
what vocabulary is absolutely necessary in my own
work. It can be a crutch to say, “Oh, this is a great
turn or partnering move.”
How will people identify with the themes of
this play today?
This project is about love, different kinds of love,
and being bold with your art and your life and censorship. It’s a complicated examination of expression, and how we express ourselves to each other
is such a delicate issue. How do you have hope for
a future that’s hopefully filled with love? Can we
use love to drive something that we might have
as much distrust in as politics? I think a lot of us
are thinking that now. It’s often theater that helps
us see how we express humanity. The strife in this
play speaks to love on so many levels. n
news | 10 MINUTES WITH...
The cast of
His work lands on the Great White Way for the first time this month.
BY KRISTIN SCHWAB