David Neumann

David Neumann has been a featured dancer in the works of Susan Marshall, Jane Comfort, Sally Silvers, Irene Hultman, Cathy Weiss, Big Dance Theater, and the late club legend Willi Ninja. He was a member of Doug Varone and Dancers, and an eight-year original member and collaborator with Doug Elkins Company, with whom he toured nationally and internationally. He continues to perform and choreograph for theater, opera and film working with such directors as: Hal Hartley, Laurie Anderson, Robert Woodruff, Lee Breuer, Peter Sellars, JoAnn Akalaitis, Chris Bayes, Mark Wing-Davey, Daniel Sullivan, Les Waters and Molly Smith. Recent and upcoming projects include: creature movement on ‘I Am Legend’ with Will Smith, performing in ‘Beckett Shorts’ with Mikhail Baryshnikov at New York Theater Workshop and choreographing The Bacchae at the Public Theater

As artistic director of advanced beginner group, Neumann’s work as been presented in New York at PS 122, Dance Theater Workshop, New York Live Arts, Central Park SummerStage (where he collaborated with John Giorno), Celebrate Brooklyn and Symphony Space (where he collaborated with Laurie Anderson) and The Whitney. His work has also been presented at the Walker Art Center and MASS MoCA.

He’s currently a professor of Theater at Sarah Lawrence College and a guest lecturer at both Barnard College and The Graduate Acting Program at Yale University.

Returning Choreographic Fellow | Aug 14 - 21, 2016


David Neumann’s residency, the first in a series, allowed him to continue early stage development of his latest project. Inspired by his participation as an artist-in-residence at the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), his inquiry stems from several emerging questions that consider the unfathomable scale of time and space, and the terror and wonder it inspires. While at MANCC, Neumann initiated his investigation with a literature review and movement explorations accompanying by a daily writing practice. Additionally, Neumann met with Dr. Jeremiah Murphy, Assistant Professor in FSU’s Department of Physics to discuss the intersections between dance and astrophysics.

This residency is supported by a multi-year, multi-residency initiative from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Neumann, joined by his collaborators, will return for two more residencies as part of the Mellon-funded Choreographic Fellow program, which will allow them to address the needs of the developing work at multiple stages. This funding addresses one of MANCC’s key programmatic priorities, to support vanguard artists’ work at all stages of development. By enabling artists to more fully research ideas in and out of the studio (concept, movement vocabulary, production design), MANCC residencies help more fully realize artistic visions.

Returning Choreographic Fellow | January 12-25, 2015

I Understand Everything Better

I Understand Everything Better is a multidisciplinary dance-based performance that explores the impulse to report on calamity, the consciousness of traumatic change, and one's proximity to dying. A union of theater and dance-making methodologies, I Understand incorporates innovative technology, weather reports, and personal narratives within a framework composed of elements drawn from classical Japanese dance and theater. Within the central metaphor in I Understand... of an oncoming storm, a comparison emerges between the individual and the species-wide in relation to experiencing the end of life. There are three main points of portrayal: a man on his deathbed, a meteorologist reporting from within a storm, and a great actor who might be performing a Kabuki play about a dying man in a great storm.

Prior to coming to MANCC Neumann worked with two advisors on the project including, Dr. Pamela Barton (an end-of-life care physician) and Rick Davis, a lead scientist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin, FL.  Neumann conducted interviews with weather reporters and observed their live weather reports. Observing them on the job allowed for a highly detailed account of how these “in the field” reports are produced, adding to the specificity of the performance. Neumann also interacted with the elder community and those who attend to their health care needs to gain a wider perspective on approaches to dying as well as the effects on our minds and bodies as we near our last breath.

Neumann began his MANCC residency by meeting with a nurse from Tallahassee’s Big Bend Hospice to discuss her experiences working with those at the end of life and how she cares for those who face terminal illnesses. Neumann and his collaborators also met with Dr. Kristina Buhrman, an Assistant Professor of Religion at FSU, to discuss ancient Japanese theater and philosophy. Alongside the exploration of the themes in the work, Neumann used his MANCC residency to focus attention on production elements including lighting, set construction and furthering the develop a soundscape. Neumann ended his residency with an informal showing of I Understand Everything Better followed by a discussion in which Neumann addressed his inspirations for the piece and its genre-defying nature. 

I Understand premiers at the American Dance Institute in Rockville, MD March 27-28, 2015.

  • John Gasper, Tei Blow, Jennifer Kidwell and David Neumann
  • Tei Blow reviewing and developing sound design for <i>I Understand...</i>
  • Writer Sybil Kempson works with Neumann, Kidwell, Blow, and Gasper
  • Set Designer Mimi Lien researching production elements with Neumann and Kidwell
  • Neumann meets with FSU Religion Professor Dr. Kristina Burhman about Noh Theater
  • Newmann and Kempson in a meeting with Hospice Nurse Miriette Dorval
  • Neumann and Gasper perform in an informal showing of <i>I Understand...</i>
  • David Neumann and Jennifer Kidwell
  • David Neumann
  • Neumann and Kidwell perform in an informal showing of <i>I Understand...</i>
  • David Neumann
  • David Neumann
  • I Understand Everything Better rehearsal
  • Jennifer Kidwell
  • John Gasper and Jennifer Kidwell
  • <i>I Understand Everything Better</i> Informal Showing
  • <i>I Understand Everything Better</i> Informal Showing
  • <i>I Understand Everything Better</i> Informal Showing
  • <i>I Understand Everything Better</i> Informal Showing
  • <i>I Understand Everything Better</i> Informal Showing
Collaborators in residence: Tei Blow, Johnny Gasper, Jennifer Kidwell [performers], Sybil Kempson [writer], Chloe Brown [lighting designer], Mimi Lien [set design], Tei Blow [sound design], Christine Shallenberg [lighting/projection], Erica Sweany [costume designer], Meredith Boggia [creative producer]. Photo slideshows by Chris Cameron and Jon Nalon.

New York Live Arts Partnership | October 18 – November 2, 2011

Restless Eye

Former Choreographic Fellow David Neumann returned to MANCC to develop Restless Eye, a work that explores the realm between thought and behavior, between describing life and experiencing it. While in residence, Neumann and his collaborators sourced a variety of data sets and statistics based on everyday phenomena and shared their investigations through open rehearsals with the local community, FSU students and with students at Sarah Lawrence College via Skype. Neumann and writer, Sibyl Kempson met with Dr. Karin Brewster, a Sociology professor and Director of the FSU Center for Demography and Population Health to discuss the utilization of statistical models within the developmental process. Neumann also explored the possibility of incorporating digital media in the work with collaborator Tei Blow.

The work premiered at New York Live Arts on March 24, 2012.

This New York Live Arts Partnership was made possible in part with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

  • David Neumann researches movement for <i>Restless Eye</i>
  • Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski, Kennis Hawkins, Neal Medlyn
  • <i>Restless Eye</i> rehearsal
  • Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski, Kennis Hawkins, Jeremy Olson and Neal Medlyn rehearse <i>Restless Eye</i>
  • Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski rehearsing <i>Restless Eye</i>
  • David Neumann and Neal Medlyn
  • Jeremy Olson and Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski perform as part of <i>Restless Eye</i> Informal Showing
  • Kennis Hawkins performs in <i>Restless Eye</i> Informal Showing
  • Jeremy Olson, Neal Medlyn, Kennis Hawkins and Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski
  • Jeremy Olson, Neal Medlyn, Kennis Hawkins, David Neumann and Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski
  • Kennis Hawkins and Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski perform in <i>Restless Eye</i> Informal Showing
  • Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski, Kennis Hawkins, Jeremy Olson and Neal Medlyn
  • Jeremy Olson and Kennis Hawkins
  • Kennis Hawkins perform in <i>Restless Eye</i> Informal Showing
  • Kennis Hawkins, Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski and Jeremy Olson
  • Jeremy Olson, Kennis Hawkins and Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski
  • Jeremy Olson, Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski and Kennis Hawkins
  • David Neumann and collaborators speak with audience after showing
  • Neumann explores the possible use of digital media in <i>Restless Eye</i>
  • Neumann and collaborators experiment with digital media in the development of <i>Restless Eye</i>
  • Hawkins explores the use of digital media
  • Neumann utilizes Tei Blow's digital media effects in the development of <i>Restless Eye</i>
  • Jeremy Olson experiments with Tei Blow's digital media effects
Collaborators in Residence: Kennis Hawkins, Neal Medlyn, Jeremy Olson, Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski [performers], Tei Blow [technical director], Sibyl Kempson [writer].
Slideshow photos by Chris Cameron, Al Hall and David Neumann.

Choreographic Fellow | May 7 – 27, 2007


Neumann worked with students and his dancers on FEEDFORWARD through the exploration, expansion and a combination of the rules of sports. Neumann used the rules and tactics of different sports as “found algorithms” to determine the structure of this new ‘physical event’. Eve Beglarian worked with a local band of trombonists to develop an original score for the work.

FEEDFORWARD premiered at Dance Theatre Workshop in October, 2007.

Collaborators in Residence:Eve Beglarian [composer], Matt Citron, Taryn Griggs, Kyle Pleasant, Chris Yon [dancers]

World Premiere

Emily Johnson

Then a Cunning Voice
August 19
PS122 (NYC)


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