My Interview with Deborah Downey

March 13, 2019

Blog written by Alix McDonough

I had the pleasure of talking with Deborah Downey in her home recently.  Over sparkling water, crackers and cheese, we had a lovely conversation. I was able to learn a bit more about her and about her passion for dance.

Deborah is on the Board of Chamber Dance Project (CDP) and is the founding member of The New Works Fund which supports contemporary voices in music and dance.  She believes that introducing various choreographers and dancers to work with CDP is “very refreshing.  It’s necessary to keep the company vital.”

Deborah talked about the important contribution CDP has made to the community by offering an opportunity for those of limited resources to experience dance by attending rehearsals, meeting dancers and choreographers and watching performances.

Another thing that sets CDP apart is in providing summer work for dancers from various companies, when they would otherwise be unemployed.  The audience benefits too, by being able to attend performances in the off-season.

Deborah is very interested in getting the special needs community involved.  “Children love to dance.”

She has been working with the Lab School of Washington, a small private school for students with learning differences.  Her vision is to have a class for elementary school children to learn how to dance and to move.  “To touch music.”

“Just think how very useful that would be for their development.”

What does Deborah see that makes CDP so special to her?

“The interaction between the dancers.  They bonded and worked off each other so beautifully.  I’ve never seen anything like that before.  Their bodies moved with each other as if they became a unit.  It’s so strong and immediate. It’s easy to forget how difficult those moves are.  They make it look so easy.”

One of the works that Deborah found especially fascinating was the Cole Porter montage, where the dancers moved behind a screen in silhouette.  “That was one of my favorites.”

I asked Deborah to talk a bit about how she sees the future for CDP.  She is very pleased to see the favorable reaction people have had when they experience a performance.  They have really embraced the company.  CDP has found a niche and has gained recognition.  Their work is “worthy of note.”

“It looked like a long time coming,” Deborah told me, “but actually I think it’s been pretty quick.  We still have a long way to go, but I’m very gratified by what we have been able to do in a short time.”


Choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Deborah Downey, founder of the New Works Fund