By Tara Sheena of Dance Informa.
Taylor Donofrio has had an active troupe since she started her dance company, Donofrio Dance, in 2009. In the past four years, Donofrio has showcased her dance works across New York City, most recently in a season of their newest work, RAM, at the Center for Performance Research in Brooklyn.
Oftentimes using her performers’ personal experiences as a platform to create her dances, Donofrio’s work reflects an interest in social issues and human instincts. That coupled with her nuanced, gestural movement opens up the personal nature of her work to all audiences who see it.
In her interview with Dance Informa, Donofrio reveals early interests in making dances, her highly explorative creative process and why taking risks is so important to emerging choreographers.
What originally drew you to choreography? Do you have any early influences you can recall?
“My interest in dance making began when I was in middle school. During one of my modern dance classes, my teacher asked each of us to create our own 30-second dance. I remember being so excited because this was the first time in a dance class where I was able to create my own movement and share it amongst my peers. I performed my 30-second solo in front of my class and I soon realized that choreography had a depth to it, one that gave me an expression that felt unlike anything else. At that same time, I was being influenced by seeing a lot of dance and theater. I am from a small town, but we had a beautiful theater nearby where my parents would take me and my sisters to see all of the shows that came there. Seeing these performances helped me appreciate dance as a craft, but it also fostered the impulse I had to create.”
“My work can be dream-like, dark and ironic, while still being relatable in its intentions and themes. The work can connect to anyone, as it continually explores questions that we all ask ourselves every day. I ask these questions to my dancers, and we take the time to research them. My dancers and I will undergo a creative process of exploring our own experiences and how they make us who we are. This research approach connects the dancers to the choreography and creates a deeper-rooted sense of why the movement exists.”
What is the biggest challenge for emerging choreographers in NYC right now? What are the strategies you’ve employed to navigate that challenge?
“I think one of the biggest challenges for emerging choreographers, and in the dance community in general, is the lack of funding. Emerging companies and more established companies end up having to apply for the same grants. The funding for the arts is continually being cut, and though there are many organizations that support new artists, many presenters are not taking risks on new artists who may not be as established. I am working on finding new ways to get my work into different communities, not just dance, so it can find new audiences and new ways of being funded.”
What are the next steps for you and your company? Any upcoming performances we should know about?
We just recently performed our newest work, RAM, at the Center for Performance Research in Brooklyn. This month, we will be performing and teaching master classes to high school students in the Westchester Area. We will also be bringing RAM to Green Space in Long Island City on March 14 and 15 as a part of the Take Root series. More information is available at www.donofriodanceco.com.
Photos: Taylor Donofrio of NYC-based Donofrio Dance. Photos by Grace Courvoisier.