CAROLYN DORFMAN, choreographer and founding Artistic Director Carolyn Dorfman Dance (CDD) is known as a creator of evocative dances that reflect her concerns about the human condition. She is interested in creating “worlds” into which the audience can enter. Hailed as the consummate storyteller, Dorfman, a child of Holocaust survivors, has also created a celebrated body of work that honors her Jewish legacy, its trials and triumphs, its treasured uniqueness and, most importantly, its universal connections. Her interdisciplinary and intercultural approach on the stage and in the community explores the rich tapestry of human experience, tradition, and stories.
Celebrating its 40th season, Carolyn Dorfman Dance connects life and dance in bold, athletic, and dramatic works by Carolyn Dorfman and nationally renowned choreographers and in collaboration with extraordinary composers, musicians, actors, storytellers, visual artists, and costume, set and video designers. The company’s ten multi-ethnic and stunning dancers tap their unique talents, both in performance and in its interactions with audiences, students and the community, to present high-energy, technically demanding, and highly acclaimed works that take audiences on intellectual and emotional journeys that ultimately illuminate and celebrate the human story. This is contemporary dance that moves you to think, feel, laugh, cry, and engage.
Touring nationally and internationally, her company appears at major theaters, festivals, universities, and non-traditional performance venues. At the heart of CDD’s immersive artistic and educational programming is DEPTH- Dance that Empowers People to be more Human. From Newark to China, New York City to Nepal, Houston to Detroit, Miami to Omaha, Orlando to Kansas City, Carolyn Dorfman and Company see dance as a powerful and joyous vehicle for human expression, connection, social action, and change. Multiple tours to Poland (2001, 2003, 2009), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2015, 2016), and 2020 Katmandu, Nepal (unfortunately canceled) have been supported by The Trust for Mutual Understanding, U.S. Arts International and the U.S. State Department. For Dorfman, “through our work, we reveal the world as it is…the world as it can be”.
In 2018, Carolyn Dorfman Dance commissioned the creation of a new work SNAP CRACKLE POP, featuring a ground-breaking collaboration between Artistic Director Carolyn Dorfman and former CDD company member and Co-Artistic Director of the internationally renowned Pilobolus, Renée Jaworski. Merging their signature styles and processes, Dorfman, Jaworski and the dancers of Carolyn Dorfman Dance came together to create a work about connection; past, present, and future. Carolyn Dorfman Dance will exclusively tour the work, which was co-commissioned by and premiered at NJPAC on April 14-15, 2018, for two years and then is available to join the touring repertory of Pilobolus, as well.
Setting and creating work on pre-professional and professional companies as well as her company, 2021 Commissions for Dorfman include The Gia Prima Foundation and Ocean County College featuring a new work celebrating the life and work of Louis Prima which had its virtual preview in March 2021 at Ocean County College and stage premiere at SOPAC on April 23, 2022. New Dance Partners and Johnson County Community College featuring a new work to be created for Störling Dance Theater in the fall of 2021; NJPAC co-commissioning a new work, The Attitude of Doing, with live performance by the acclaimed jazz violinist, Regina Carter premiered at the TD Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 16, 2022.
A Michigan native, Dorfman received her BFA in Dance with K-12 teaching certification from the University of Michigan and her MFA from New York University Tisch School for the Arts. A former Assistant Professor of Dance at Centenary College in NJ, Dorfman is a master teacher, mentor, and a guest artist/choreographer/lecturer at major universities, pre-professional, and professional training programs across the U.S. and abroad. In FY 19, Carolyn crossed the country and globe providing professional development and programming at a myriad of universities and pre-professional training programs. Highlights include master classes for the dance departments at DeSales University, Cedar Crest and Moravian Colleges (PA), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (WI) and the Regional High School Dance Festival (WI), George Mason University (VA) and Rutgers University (NJ) and (China). Dorfman was a moderator and presenter of At the Root of It All: Art and Legacy at the Jews and Jewishness in the Dance World conference at Arizona State University in October 2018. In May 2019, Dorfman was visiting lecturer, teaching a two-week course, Intro to Choreography- Connections and Intersections, for undergraduate supply-chain business majors at RUNIN- Rutgers University Newark Institute at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China. In July 2019, she taught a professional development workshop and the company performed at the 7th Annual Somatic Dance Conference & Performance Festival at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Continuing the demand of her time and expertise, she presented again at the National Dance Education (NDEO) Conference in October 2019 in Miami, FL. She is a regular guest lecturer at Mason Gross School for the Arts in New Brunswick as well as her alma mater, The University of Michigan Dance Dept. She is an Honorary Co-Chair of NJPAC’s Celebrate Dance Advisory Committee.
Honored with many artistic and civic awards, Dorfman has been designated a Distinguished Artist and has received six Choreography Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She received the Prudential Prize for Non-Profit Leadership (the first ever given to an artist) and the Jewish Women in the Arts Award for Dance from the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit and the Janice Charach Epstein Gallery. She was named the Industry Partner of the Year from the Union County Vocational Technical School/Academy for the Performing Arts (2012), received the Dance Advocate Award by DanceNJ (2013), was named a “Woman of Excellence” in the Arts and Humanities by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders/The Union County Commission on the Status of Women (2014), and received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from Seton Hall University and The Sister Rose Thering Fund (2015). In November 2017, she was the featured cover story in the Dance Teacher Magazine entitled “Making Dance a Dialogue” and in December 2017 she was featured in “ON THE SCENE with John Bathke” on News 12 New Jersey.