In each issue of STEPS! we highlight one of our awesome volunteers. This time, Dave Leventhal, owner of Lift / Next Level Floats, gets the Spotlight!
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!