SHERIDAN — This Sunday, the Whitney Center for the Arts will host the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company for a performance of its “Welcome to the World of Dance” which will feature a combination of the company’s professional dancers and Sheridan community locals.
“We’ve had this mission that everyone can dance, everyone can join the dance,” Gwirtzman said.
As the company travels the country and abroad, they work to incorporate locals into their programming. In Sheridan, they’ve partnered with Sheridan College modern and jazz dance students, students from Donna’s Dance Academy and 11 fifth grade students from the Dance Club at Meadowlark Elementary for a total of 37 performers in the project.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all. It’s always very specifically tailored to the communities that we’re working with,” Gwirtzman said.
Daniel Gwirtzman first came to Sheridan County in Fall 2018 for a five week stay as an artist in residence at the Ucross Foundation. While at Ucross, Gwirtzman reached out to Sheridan College and taught a masterclass there, and he and Sheridan College Dance Program Director Stephanie Koltiska decided to book a performance by the company at the college.
“We were invited to perform, period, end point. However, our mission prefers to make dance an active event and not a passive one, so I then pitched to the Whitney Center for the Arts this idea where audiences really don’t have the chance to be passive participants,” Gwirtzman said.
Sheridan College Jazz I students began rehearsing with the company remotely in the summer with video and Skype sessions and have been training alongside the professionals throughout the week, serving as apprentices to the company by helping to train the younger students.
“It’s challenging, but I really like dancing with dancers at this level because it pushes me to try as hard as I can,” Ivy Harbor, a dance major at the college said. “So I try to just see what they’re doing and think ‘how can I make that work with my body? What are they doing better than what I’m doing, so I can smooth everything out and make it make sense?’”
Gwirtzman founded the company twenty years ago as a performing and educational company and has since formed close relationships with organizations like the New York City Department of Education, senior centers and Veterans Affairs, Gwirtzman said.
The music will feature original compositions from a Philadelphia composer as well as jazz standards, and the fifth-graders will perform a hora circle dance. Later, Gwirzman will perform a signature solo piece. Gwirtzman will narrate and the younger dancers will also speak throughout.
In addition to the local performers, the company integrates audience members into the performance throughout. After the performance, audience members will have the chance to attend a folk dance clinic with Gwirzman and the performers.
The event will begin at 2p.m. Sunday in Kinnison Hall at the Whitney Center for the Arts.