Meet Dr. Daniel Lewis: Dancer, Choreographer, Author, and Arts Educator! In addition to an incredible career, Dr. Lewis (known to us as Danny) is completing an 12-year term as a member of the A4L Board of Diretors. Dr. Lewis has shared his works and techniques around the world.

Read below to learn more, and click for full bio here.

What inspired you to join the A4L Board of Directors?
After 24 years as a student, faculty member and assistant to the director at the Juilliard School in New York City and another 24 years as the founding Dean of Dance at the New World School of the Arts (NWSA), I could not give up my passion for helping students achieve their dreams and goals. When I retired from NWSA, I was approached by many arts leaders in Miami to join their boards. I chose Arts for Learning because it was a well-established, successful local arts organization with a national footprint. It brings the joy and enrichment of arts to a lot of students in dance, theater, music, and the visual arts, changing their lives forever.

Why do you think A4L programming is important to our community?
All arts programs are important to our community. Arts for Learning is a model on how to make an arts program successful in its mission. Success is when a student is able to say “I can put a square peg through a round hole because the arts taught me to be a creative thinker.” This student will be successful in life, having learned in an arts class how to think outside of the box.

What is the artistic accomplishment you’re most proud of?
It’s very hard to choose one artistic accomplishment. Even if I picked one, it would have to be one of each as a dancer, performing around the world, choreographer, author, teacher, artistic director of two-dance companies, an arts educator or arts administrator, as someone who has staged ballets of José Limón and Doris Humphrey around the world. See what I mean? But given no choice, I would have to say, being the founding Dean of Dance at the New World School of the Arts was my greatest accomplishment in the arts. Or my last performance with the José Limón Dance Company in Moscow, with a standing ovation that lasted for 18 minutes. Or completing the last work of José Limón after his death, and now 50 years later seeing the Limón Company performing it for the first time. Or seeing all of my students from The Juilliard School and New World shaping the future of dance. It is much easier to say, my entire life as an artist was my greatest accomplishment.

Can you tell us about the moment you knew you wanted to pursue the arts as a profession?
I was five years old when I discovered dance. I enjoyed moving, but it was not until I entered middle school that I realized that movement was my choice of language. It was also a time in my life that I lived two lives. It was very hard to be a dancer in Brooklyn. I hid it from all but my closest friends.

What has been a life lesson you’ve learned through the arts?
The only thing that separates us from other mammals is the Fine Arts. Animals do dances to procreate, sing to communicate, build dams to live in. We do it for the sake of making meaningful and beautiful art.

Can you tell us about interesting projects you’ve participated in this year, and any coming up for 2024?

I’m now working with the University in Beijing on the Chinese translation of my Dance Technique book. It is now in 6 languages. I restaged on Dance Now Miami my work “Open Book,” and they performed it for over 500 children from the Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The work dealt with depression and suicide. The children really understood and could relate to the work. The pandemic has had a major effect on these children. The positive feedback I received from their teachers was very rewarding.

In the fall, Dance Now Miami and the New World School of the Arts will celebrate my 80th birthday with a performance of my work Open Book performed by Dance Now Miami and a work performed by the students of New World. Juilliard and New World students and Alumni will be performing as well.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our students, parents, partners and community supporters?

I highly recommend that you go to a museum, visit an art gallery, see a dance concert, go to the theater or a music performance. Take a loved one with you, or better yet take your children and some of their friends so they can see the beauty of what makes us humans. And while you are at it, read a copy of my biography, Daniel Lewis, a Life in Choreography and the Art of Dance. You just might enjoy it.

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