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The Night of Broken Glass

By Gary Wien

Dance is a unique medium to present stories such as Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass. It's an art form with the ability of showing beauty and pain simultaneously, to be both abstract and narrative at the same time. In a story that details the event which many look upon as the beginning of the Holocaust, the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company uses dance to show hope and the human spirit in the midst of ultimate adversity. The company will present a special performance of "The Legacy Project: A Dance of Hope" on Thursday, November 13 at South Orange Performing Arts Center. Following the performance will be a panel discussion entitled, "Yesterday's Story is Today's Reality" featuring the artists alongside clergy, Seton Hall professors, and special guests.

The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues had their windows broken during one violent night in Germany. Acclaimed choreographer and storyteller, Carolyn Dorfman has lived with stories like this throughout her entire life. A daughter of Holocaust survivors, her work has increasingly been influenced by her Jewish heritage and the stories of her parents.

"The Legacy Project: A Dance of Hope" is a dance-theatre trilogy that takes the audience through the Holocaust and its unspeakable devastation, during a period in which hope inspires a journey to a land that promises new beginnings. The night opens with a piece that comes from a larger work called "My Father's Solo."

"It is a dedication to the survivor," Dorfman explained. "It's a piece that I made in response to my family's story and my father who, like others, have the capacity to fall and rise again. They have tenacity, a sense of pride, a sense of resilience to whatever comes their way. It's the prologue of the piece, a narrated performance in the sense that there's a multimedia performance. I show slides and talk about the evolution of this work.

This article was originally designed to be read in the October 2014 issue of
New Jersey Stage magazine. To read it in its original format, click here

"The next piece of the program is called ‘Cat's Cradle' - it's a work that is set to music and poetry that was written in Theresienstadt," continued Dorfman. "It was really a holding ground primarily for Jews on their way to Auschwitz. It was a very unique place in the sense that there was opera, theatre, even dance created at Thereseinstadt. There were people who rose above their circumstance to create, to have hope, and to believe that they may be freed. Most importantly, it's this idea of staying connected... of not being held back by the past, but, in some ways, being strengthen by their connection to it.

"The last piece on the program is from the closing section called ‘Mayne Menstshn,' which is Yiddish for my people," noted Dorfman. "This section is about the American Dream and it speaks of coming to America and facing all of the joys, the challenges, and the wonders of immigrants who came here. It's a story that doesn't change. It's one of issues of assimilation, bias, and how one becomes part of a larger whole while maintaining their connection to their own identity and their own culture - The question of how to move forward in those two worlds. All together, the three pieces are the journey you take through the evening. In some ways it's a call to action. For us to not sit there as an audience and be complacent about what is happening around the world today."

Dorfman feels a real connection to the concept of hope shared by the people in these stories. Her father survived with his father and her mother survived with two sisters. She knows how lucky she is that they made the choice to live.

"I was lucky because my parents chose life," said Dorfman. "They chose to live, to have children, to raise a Jewish family, and to be part of the American Dream. They stayed connected to who they were and never forgot where they came from, but they embraced life. And that is a very different story than many survivors and people that they know who lived and came to America."

Stories of the Holocaust were often told in her household while growing up. They inspired conversation with aunts and uncles who were held in various concentration camps. Her mother made sure that the family watched every movie and read each book on the subject. Carolyn struggled to deal with it, often experiencing nightmares imagining what the experience was like for her mother. At 15, her mother was taken away from everything that she knew. Carolyn internalized these feelings, trying to hide how painful they were from her mother.

"My work was a way of saying, ‘Mom, I understand. I know how important it is to you that your stories be told,'" said Dorfman. Yet sharing the stories of her heritage was difficult for Carolyn in the beginning. The first piece she ever made was "Cries of the Children" in 1983. This program was not so much about the survivors of the Holocaust as it was about being a child of survivors.

"I did not feel like I could tell their story," recalled Dorfman. "Interestingly, as I got older and they got quieter, I felt it was more important for the next generation to continue to tell their story. So, as I got older, I felt more compelled to have those stories be told. And some are very joyous stories. There are elements of the American Dream that are humorous and poignant, it's not all sad. There is hope in all of this. There is joy in choosing life and how people can survive and thrive, and make a difference.

"I think work is authentic when it comes from a specific realm," she continued. "Making a dance about love is very generic. Making a dance about something more specific to that love actually has better universality. I think there is beauty in dance, but it is in the nonverbal as much as the verbal that we understand life. It takes us into that realm where our own imagination fills in the images and thoughts. These are human stories and I think it changes those of us who do it. We've done shows for survivors and we've asked them what they most want people to know and they say just don't forget us... Don't forget."

For more by this author, click here

New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble To Perform The Nutcracker On Sunday
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble, a pre-professional training and performing company for young dancers based in downtown Summit, will host a free community story time event of their holiday production The Nutcracker at NJDTE Studios at 315B Springfield Ave in Summit on Sunday, November 18, at 4:00pm.
New Jersey Ballet To Perform Its Annual Holiday Classic at Mayo
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) --  New Jersey Ballet's seasonal presentation of the holiday classic Nutcracker comes to Mayo Performing Arts Center for 14 performances beginning Friday, December 14 at 7:30pm and ending on Thursday, Dec. 27 at 1:00pm. New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will provide live orchestral accompaniment. Tickets range from $29-69.  
Rowan Percussionists and Dancers To Share The Stage
(GLASSBORO, NJ -- The Rowan Percussion Ensemble features an original dance piece as part of its fall semester concert on Monday, November 19 at 8:00pm in Pfleeger Concert Hall. Under the direction of Dr. Matthew Witten, the ensemble will present a collaboration with choreographer and performer Melanie Stewart, associate dean of the College of Performing Arts at Rowan, on a dance piece set to John Cage’s “Credo in Us.” The work, developed in collaboration with California-based performer, choreographer, and educator Lorelei Bayne, will feature 18 Rowan students.
Roxey Ballet Enters 25th Year Of Presenting The Nutcracker For The Holidays
(EWING, NJ) -- Roxey Ballet will present its 25th Annual American Holiday Classic "Nutcracker" from November 24-December 2 at The College of New Jersey's Kendall Main Stage Theater. This acclaimed annual holiday event has become a favorite tradition of area residents and visitors alike. Both adults and children marvel at the magical spectacle created by the collective vision of Mark and Melissa Roxey, founders of both The Roxey Contemporary Ballet and The Mill Ballet School. It's the perfect way to begin the holiday season.  
AC Ballet Kicks Off The 2018 Holiday Season With It’s A Shore Holiday
​​​​​​​(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- This Thanksgiving weekend the Atlantic City Ballet will be bringing back It’s A Shore Holiday to help kick off the holiday season. It’s A Shore Holiday blends classical and contemporary dance set to beloved holiday tunes. This “Radio City-esque” review will feature the AC Ballet Professional company along with live singers and a six piece band. Performances will take place on Saturday, November 24th at 7:00pm in Circus Maximum Theater (inside Caesars Hotel) in Atlantic City and Sunday, November 25th at 3:00pm in the Stafford Township Arts Center in Manahawkin.

Dracula: The Atlantic City Ballet LIVE! at Lakewood’s Strand Theater
On Saturday, Oct 21, 2018, The Atlantic City Ballet celebrated Halloween early with their production of Dracula at The Strand Theatre in Lakewood, NJ.
Ballet, Boxing and Street Dance Gangs?! An Artist Profile of Mark Roxey
Mark Roxey’s been thrown in a garbage can, part of street dance gangs (who knew those were really real?!) and spends a whole lot of time in the boxing gym. He is also the founder and director of the Roxey Ballet Company, associate director of The Mill Ballet School, and has had a distinguished career with numerous American dance companies, including The Joffrey Ballet. You have to hear Mark’s story in our latest artist profile.
Swan Lake: The Atlantic City Ballet LIVE! at The Strand Lakewood
On Saturday, September 22, 2018, The Atlantic City Ballet presented their version of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake at The Strand Theatre in Lakewood, NJ. Featuring spellbinding choreography by Phyllis Papa, the talented members of the ACB transported an enthusiastic audience of all ages to another world, and Love Imagery was on hand to capture the magic in this photo-essay.
A New Ballet Company Launches At The Shore
Monmouth County has long been a hub for the arts, with a celebrated music scene, thriving original theatre and artists throughout the area, but one thing was missing – the area did not have its own professional ballet company.
Kennedy Dancers Take On Anderson Park
Trust me when I tell you that the Kennedy Dancers do it all. No joke. The company, which is based in Jersey City and was founded in 1976 by Artistic Director Diane Dragone, is a professional dance company (performing all manner of styles), a pre-professional training company, a dance school and a producer of a television show.

Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm

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