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Martin A. David
Invitation to the Dance - Reflections

Dancing is for Life

by Martin A. David
September 30, 2004

Dancing Is For Life

Martin A. David
September 30, 2004

Merce Cunningham did it. Alicia Alonzo did it. Martha Graham did it. Many other dancers are doing it right now. The "it" in this case is dancing-dancing beyond the usual, externally imposed boundaries of age.

Society often asks its dancers to slink away into something called a "post-dance" career after they reach the age of 40. Well, the news is out: the best post-dance career is dance. We refuse to go away and we refuse to stop until we're good and ready to stop.

Dancers spend years learning and perfecting our art. Why should we fade away just as we reach the point when most artists are just ripening into the fullest realization of their skills and visions? The answer is that we shouldn't. Today's improved health perspective, better body knowledge, and enhanced training methods give us the opportunity to go on.

While the body and technique of an older dancer may not be the same as that of a 20-year-old, older dancers have a wealth of art to share. What is needed is a redefinition of the concept of technique. A young dancer may be able to leap her own height or touch his toe to his ear. An older dancer may be able to conjure worlds beyond the realm of daily experience, simply by standing on stage and raising an arm. A younger dancer may be able to put his or her soul into the work, but an older dancer's soul is the work.

I speak not from a neutral, disinterested place, but rather from inside the body of an older dancer. I am 65 years old and I am still dancing. There have been stops along the way, but dance never left me and I never left dance. I want to know that dance is a lifelong art-just as painting and writing are lifelong arts.

I am not alone. I have called together dancers ranging from 40 to my own age. Together we make up the …And Still Dancing performance project. The group (I hesitate to call it a company….yet) is some 12 dancers strong. The first performance will be at the history-rich ODC theater in San Francisco's Mission District on the 14th and 15th of January, 2005. The dancers have come from Reno, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Francisco to tell the world that they are still dancing.

Are we doing this to make a statement? No…and yes. We are doing this to dance. We are doing this to make art. We are making a statement whether we intend to or not. We are modern dancers and ballet dancers. We will present solos, group choreographies, improvisations, pieces drenched in sardonic humor, highly personal dance journeys, and pieces with the deadly seriousness of butoh. We are dancing the dances of our lives. We are here….and we will not go away.

For more information, please go to www.andstilldancing.com

Martin A. David's Bio

Modern dancer, choreographer, actor and director with significant experience as a leading performer in major European and American venues. BA in Theater from Brooklyn College. Personally recruited by Joseph Papp for the New York Shakespeare Festival. Trained in Nikolais technique enriched by formal study of diverse dance forms ranging from Kathak to ballet, commedia dell'arte to mime under teachers including Ella Jaroszewicz (wife and student of Marcel Marceau), Kurt Joos, Jose Udaeta, and Hans van Manen.

Founder, principal dancer and choreographer of the groundbreaking Creative Dance Theatre of Copenhagen, the first state-sponsored modern dance company in Denmark. Performed with and directed the company for 10 years. In addition to home seasons in Denmark, company toured throughout Europe and had multiple appearances on international television. Appeared as guest dancer with the Royal Danish Theatre. Founder and artistic director of …And Still Dancing, a modern dance project featuring performances and choreography of dancers over 40.

Upon retirement from dance career returned to the United States and became dance writer and critic, with more than 1 million words in print. Dance critic and feature writer for Hollywood Dramalogue and The Los Angeles Times. As critic was awarded various honors including Dance In Action annual award and special citation from the Los Angeles Area Dance Alliance. Editor of Dance West and Los Angeles Interchange. Worked as Editor-in-Chief of Dance Teacher Now magazine for 3 years. Author of 9 books, including The Dancer's Audition Book, used as a text in a number of prominent college dance programs, including Ohio State University. Hosted Dancing on the Radio on KPFK (Los Angeles) for 3 years.

Served for 10 years on Dance and Multimedia Arts panels of California Arts Council. Panelist and advisor for various community-based arts organizations. Served for several years as panelist and audition judge for Bay Area Dance Alliance. Audition judge for San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival for 18 seasons. Appointed in 2000 as a Commissioner on the Santa Clara Cultural Advisory Commission. Reappointed in 2004. Currently serving as Chairman of that body.

Schooled extensively in both classical and method acting and directing with noted institutions, including the Herbert Berghoff Studios in New York. Theatrical appearances include television, film and the New York stage. Productions included Pajama Game, West Side Story, Oklahoma, The Mikado, and numerous Commedia Dell'Arte productions on stage and television. Films include Ingmar Bergman's The Emigrants. Actor and director with the Hollywood Center Theatre, a repertory group, and Ensemble Studio Theatre, a group formed by John Voigt in New York. Theatre performances included a critically praised role in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days. Wrote, produced and directed The Golem, which had two successful runs, and Rules.

Established some of the first modern dance curriculum offered in Denmark. Approach combined elements of German Expressionist dance, the theatre theories of Jerzy Grotowski and improvisational movement techniques. More than 20 years experience as a teacher and coach of modern dancers, using a unique personal method designed to achieve maximum artistic expression by combining eclectic sources including traditional modern dance, physical theatre, and avant-garde techniques.

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