« Amy Winehouse, z"l | Main | Shabate at Johnny D's, Somerville, MA, 27 Jul 2011 - Boston Jewish Music Fest fundraiser »

Greg Wall/Carolyn Dorfman Dance company at Brandeis U.

Everyone knows Rabbi Greg Wall, one of the amazing jazz sax players of our time. I first met him through his work with Frank London in Hasidic New Wave, but was subsequently blown away by his "Later Prophets" recording (not to mention work with KlezmerFest, or the amazing variety of music hosted at his Sixth Street Synagogue in NYC).

So, when Greg, who spends part of his summer teaching music to high school students at a Brandeis University summer program wrote me last week to mention that someone of whom I had never heard, the "Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company" was appearing that night and that some of his music would be featured, I had to be there.

No one will take it amiss or unusual if I say that Wall's music, while incredible, was not the highlight of the evening. It was the incredible fluidity and inventiveness of the dance and the dancers as they performed three pieces from a collection created by Dorfman over the last decade, sometimes collaborating with Wall on the music, called "The Legacy Project."

Judy and I were just back from Jacob's Pillow, in the Berkshires, where we had seen an okay Cuban dance troupe--good enough--but nothing compared to what we saw Wednesday night (and the fact that Dorfman hasn't been invited to Jacob's Pillow, given the comparison, speaks quite poorly of the Berkshire-based dance festival). I have to post my amazement, astonishment, and pleasure at the evening, which took us from a dance that seemed to celebrate life in Europe prior to the Holocaust, then life in the Camps, and then, slowly, Tikun, a healing of sorts. We were further treated to Ms. Dorfman introducing each piece briefly before it played, as the dancers changed costumes and had a couple of minutes to drink some water in the hot, hot evening.

What made the dancing so special was how tight it was, how well integrated each movement, no matter how spectacular, was with the whole--and with an array of props that were, themselves, it seemed, dancers. The other factor was the joy and humanity of the dancer. Seldom have I watched dancers who seemed more like humans who happen to dance like angels, than ... dancers. (One note by Judy, as we discussed the first piece later: during a wedding scene, as the actors portrayed a simkhe the hand movements were very Yiddish, but the steps, well, the steps were anachronistic Israeli dancing styles. And the masks? The Masks were just brilliant, transgressive, and wonderful.)

Many thanks to the Dorfman Dance Company, and to Carolyn Dorfman and Greg Wall for an extraordinary evening.