Conn dance professor improvises 24 hours of silent protest of war

Ledyard - At the halfway point of his dance, David Dorfman had his wife concerned.

”He's been working a lot lately,” Lisa Race said, peeling a clementine. “He's going to have one of these.”

With a thick blindfold covering his eyes and ears, Dorfman was just beginning his 13th hour of a 24-hour continuous improvisational dance called “Freedom of Information.”

See a slideshow of David Dorfman's dance

Dorfman, the head of the dance department at Connecticut College, is one of 32 dancers around the country who danced Wednesday - from midnight to midnight - as an act of solidarity with people who live in war-torn areas.

”It's a quiet protest,” Dorfman said during a short break in his piece, which he performed without musical accompaniment at Dragon's Egg dance and yoga studio in Ledyard.

”Freedom of Information” - named for the law requiring disclosure of many government documents - was first conceived by New York choreographer Miguel Gutierrez in 2001. Gutierrez meant the performance to serve as a protest of the American invasion of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

In a statement published on his blog, Gutierrez said that having to constantly move and dance creates “solidarity with people in the world who are displaced by armed conflict, who do not have the basic right of rest after an active day, and who instead have to remain ever-vigilant for violence .”

During the initial performance, on Dec. 31, 2001, Gutierrez drank only tea and water, and did not leave his studio at all, choosing to urinate in empty milk jugs.

Dorfman's interpretation was less strict, allowing for breaks to use the restroom and the occasional clementine wedge.

Because he was alone for some of the 24-hour period, Dorfman arranged about 25 water bottles around the perimeter of the large Dragon's Egg studio, in case he needed a drink and did not know what part of the room he was in.

When he first started the dance, Dorfman became almost immediately disoriented, smacking his hand against the mirrored walls with some velocity.

”I was lost,” said Dorfman, who said he became slightly claustrophobic during the piece.

Dorfman heeded Gutierrez's warning that performing for that long “could lead to some dark places.”

“It's happened about four times thus far,” he said.

Danielle Short, a dancer and filmmaker from Queens, N.Y., was videotaping Dorfman's dance for an art project to be developed later.

”(The dance) is about being stripped of perception,” she said. “It's frustrating and challenging.”

For a while, Race and their 7-year old son, Sam, joined Dorfman, as they wrapped around each other slowly, then rolled away.

Race, who also teaches dance at Connecticut College, said it is “really beautiful” that her husband went through with the project.

Dorfman said that when he finally takes off his blindfold, he expects the world will look different to him.

”Like Technicolor, maybe,” he said. “Like the switch to color in 'The Wizard of Oz.'”

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