Professor David Dorfman ’81 named 2019 United States Artists Fellow
Dance Professor David Dorfman ’81 never stops moving.
He has taught dance for 40 consecutive years and served as the artistic director of the influential modern dance company David Dorfman Dance since 1987, performing extensively throughout North and South America, Europe, and Central Asia. In 2017, he made his Broadway debut as the choreographer of Indecent, by Paula Vogel, and this past summer he and his company partnered with USAID El Salvador to bring dance to youth in an area plagued by gang violence, having previously made similar trips to Turkey, Armenia and Tajikistan. He’s won four fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, three from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Choreographers Award, a Lucille Lortel Award for best choreography, the first Paul Taylor Fellowship from The Yard, and a New York Dance & Performance Award (“Bessie”).
Now, he can add 2019 United States Artists Fellow to his impressive resume.
The fellowship, for which winners must be nominated by peers or experts in their field, recognizes the accomplishments of artists in the areas of architecture and design, crafts, dance, media, music, theater and performance, traditional arts, visual art, and writing with a $50,000 award to spend however they choose.
“I could barely speak when they called me to tell me I got the fellowship—I was so happy I started crying on the phone,” Dorfman said. “There are not many fellowships that go directly to the artists and allow the artist to do whatever they want. It feels really good to get this vote of confidence not only from the organization but from my peers as well.”
Dorfman, who will be honored by United States Artists along with other fellows in March, says he can imagine using the award in a number of different ways, from creating new work to exploring new artistic avenues to writing a book.
“I have been thinking: Is this the opportunity to do something really unusual? Could this be seed money to start a different kind of collaboration? I love the idea that with this fellowship, I have the opportunity to get up in the morning and dream in any way, shape or form,” he said.
At the same time, the fast-talking and highly energetic professor, dancer, choreographer and mentor is hoping to challenge himself to do something else entirely unusual—rest.
“I’m pretty good at charging ahead. Many times, I don’t give myself the downtime, the uptime, the sideways time,” he said.
“This will be a lovely period where I can exalt in the fact that some people have some ongoing faith in what I do.”