Dave, thanks for taking the time to speak with us and congratulations on expecting your first child.  When is the baby due?

 
Thanks — My wife, Tori, and I are really excited. The baby’s due New Year’s Eve, and hopefully it’ll come by then so we can get the tax deduction!  I am the son of a CPA.

Haha, that’s really funny.  How did you first find out about Dance Parade? 

I met you shortly after the first Dance Parade in 2007.  We would often see each other at Burning Man related events in New York, and doing 5Rhythms dynamic movement practice.  Dance Parade was certainly on the radar of many of the people in those communities.  Dance Parade sounded to me like a great example example of participatory culture — a concept of which I am passionate about.  I went in 2008 and was hooked!

What is your current role in Dance Parade, Inc? 

I am proud to say that I serve on Dance Parade’s Board of Directors, and have since 2009.

What have you been doing when your not parading around with this non-profit?

 I practiced law for many years litigating class action suits and most recently got to put that behind me to realize my dream to open LIFT / NEXT LEVEL FLOATS floatation therapy center in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.  We will soon open our second location in Huntington, Long Island.

Tell us more about LIFT.  What are the benefits of floating and how did you get an interest in it?

When I was an undergrad at the University of Michigan, I discovered the sensory deprivation tank–It was very meditative and I’ll never forget how peaceful it was.  In 2015 I opened LIFT, the first dedicated floatation therapy center to open in NYC in decades.  Sensory deprivation/floatation therapy, which involves floating in skin temperature supersalinated water, in a lightproof and soundproof environment, has been around for over 40 years. There have been numerous studies documenting a wide range of benefits of floatation.  On a daily basis, my guests share with me how floating helps them physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

What is your favorite style of dance to watch? to participate in? 

I enjoy watching just about any style of dance, I can’t say that I am a connoisseur.   In 2015 we had Mary Verdi-Fletcher, a pioneer in physically integrated dance, as a Grand Marshall,  and through her  I was introduced to wheelchair dancing.  That was really a revelation for me, I was very moved.  As far as dancing myself, I have two left feet.  Doing 5Rhythms dance allows me express myself through movement, without being self-conscious about it. I can do a passable Hora.

What is your dance background or interest in dance? 

I have no formal background in dance.  I am fascinated by how dance is integral to community.

If you could share the stage with anyone in history famous or not, living or deceased, a trained dancer or not, performing a routine choreographed by yourself…who would it be? 

Groucho Marx.  There would need to be some comic relief if I was on stage.

What does this year’s theme “The Cabaret of Life ” mean to you? 

On the surface, the theme is celebration that after nearly a century,  New York City’s shameful Cabaret Law is finally set to be repealed.  The law was initially enacted to keep blacks and whites separated during the Jazz era, and has since then been selectively enforced against people of color.  The law also has suppressed the development of a nightlife scene that befits a city of New York’s stature.

On a more elemental level, “The Cabaret of Life” is a recognition that the arts enrich us on a daily basis, and that we are both audience and performer.

If you could pick a Grand Marshal for this year’s parade….who would it be? 

Would it be too obvious to say Liza Minelli?

If you could pick another country to hold a Dance Parade and Festival….which would it be? 

Norway.  The natural scenery is spectacularly beautiful, the cities have striking architecture, the arts are supported and championed by the government, and everything seems to run smoothly and efficiently. The Norwegians and the indigenous Sami have rich cultural traditions to celebrate, and in recent years, Norway has drastically increased immigration, giving the country new cultures to celebrate.

Volunteering at a non profit organization can at times be daunting and frustrating with limited personnel and limited funding….what is it that keeps you coming back for more and more? 

For me, the beauty of Dance Parade is how it harmoniously brings together people from so many diverse backgrounds and cultures.  It highlights that our differences are worth celebrating.  Especially in these divisive times,  this core message of Dance Parade inspires me.

Describe a special memory you have from Dance Parades past? 

While I always love to take in the spectacle that is Dance Parade, I have special memories of the times when I have danced in the parade.  While, I have no aptitude for dancing,  I do enjoy costuming, and have had great times dressing up for the parade.  I strongly encourage everyone to dance in the parade at least once (and also to volunteer)!

What pitch would you use to attract a new volunteer onto the Dance Parade team?

Come on in, the water’s fine!

Mark, we’re all looking forward to seeing the cultural dances you curated for Winter’s Eve next Monday–Tell us more!

Sure–I’ve
been working with the fabulous folks at Lincoln Square BID to put together a lineup that rocks the city’s largest Holiday Festival!

For the past 6 years Dance Parade has presented all types of dance there, everything from hoopers, to stilt walkers and most notably, they like our folkloric dance groups. On Monday November 27th, we’re presenting four very unique ones. (see lineup in above Winter’s Eve article).

How did you first find out about Dance Parade?

That’s funny you ask that because as you know, recently the NYC Cabaret Law was repealed. I found out about Dance Parade when I was in grad school doing research for my MFA thesis about underground house dance in New York.  In one of the chapters I discussed the cabaret laws and the work that NYU La Professor Paul Chevigny and Dance Parade were doing to repeal it. I would never have imagined that 7 years later I would be working for this awesome organization.

What is your current role in Dance Parade, Inc? 

Four years ago, I joined Dance Parade’s Curatorial Committee, helping to review material about DanceFest, Winter’s Eve and other curated events that Dance Parade commissions artists for.

What have you been doing when your not parading around with this non-profit?

Like many New Yorkers I wear a lot of hats. Performer. Choreographer. Dance Educator. Personal Trainer. In the last few years Ive worked with Luis Malvacias/Third Class Citizen, Jeremy Nelson and Shandoah Goldman/Carte Blanche Performance. I also produce my own choreography. Most recently in 2016 I collaborated with the Brooklyn-based rock band Haybaby, premiering as a solo at the Bol Theater in Detroit. Im currently developing a solo based on my experience at various underground house music parties in New York between 1996-2001, to premier in Spring 2018. I work as guest artist at dance intensives or universities teaching: partnering, anatomy through movement, improvisation modern technique and house dance. And last but not least, I am a strength and conditioning specialist working with special populations, mainly pre-post natal and seniors.  (Check out MarkSchmidt.Org or write me: Mark@DanceParade.Org for more info!)

What is your favorite style of dance to watch? to participate in? 

I’m a house head at heart. I went to my first underground house music party back in 1996 at a place called Loft A in Prospect Heights and haven’t stopped dancing since then. Not only do I love it as a dance form but admire the culture of positivity, peacefulness, celebration and community that surrounds it.

What is your dance background or interest in dance? 

In my movement history I have studied capoeira, house, street jazz, classical ballet, Horton, contact improvisation, modern release technique and gymnastics.  In 2004 I was accepted to the Independent Study Program at the Alvin Ailey School and then went on to receive my MFA in Choreography and Performance from the State University of New York College at Brockport.

If you could share the stage with anyone in history famous or not, living or deceased, a trained dancer or not, performing a routine choreographed by yourself…who would it be? 

I would have to say Angela Davis.  I recently saw her speak at the Riverside Church in New York and was overwhelmed with feelings of hope and solidarity. In addition to admiring her as an intellectual and committed social justice warrior, I fell in love with her as an orator.  She has this unique textured voice and cadence that makes you want to listen to what she is saying.

What does this year’s theme “The Cabaret of Life” mean to you? 

DanceFest celebrates diversity of dance in New York, but it also serves as an example of how we can go beyond mere coexistence and find human connection through the universal joy in dance. “The Cabaret of Life” reminds of us that dance can impact us on an everyday basis, both as performer and as an audience.

What dance group or dance style are you most looking forward to seeing this coming year in the parade? 

There are two that come to mind, and these have been my favorites since I first stumbled upon Dance Parade in 2013. House Coalition and any of our Bolivian folkloric groups. They have an energy that gets people excited and moving.

If you could pick another country to hold a Dance Parade and Festival….which would it be? 

I would have to say Japan.

Volunteering at a non profit organization can at times be daunting and frustrating with limited personnel and limited funding….what is it that keeps you coming back for more and more? 

It’s the people. I know this sounds like a cliche but it’s the truth.  In addition to creating a supportive and positive work environment, the folks at Dance Parade have a shared commitment and passion for dance. A mix of choreographers, DJs and educators. And some of us just love dance.

Describe a special memory you have from Dance Parades past? 

I remember one of the first years I attended DanceFest in Tompkins Square Park, it started raining about 2 hours into the festival. I was with some friends in an area where there was a DJ, toward the northern end of the park. Instead of running for shelter, people got more excited and kept moving and celebrating.  I have this vivid memory of people dancing in the rain in the park.  Epic!