“David has a great appreciation for the cross-cultural
aspects of dance,” says Elizabeth Zimmer, dance writer and
editor at The Village Voice. Zimmer and Gere co-chaired a Los
Angeles conference that coincided with the L.A. Arts Festival
and featured many ethnic performances. It was a perfect duet for
“He was always interested in diversity,”
Zimmer adds. “He wanted to train (dance) critics to deal
with diverse materials and cultures; to fight against the New
York-centric attitude. In another life he might have been a minister.
He’s a soother and a community builder.”
|"Art is the
perfect way to get a message across to anyone, from the most
educated person to the most illiterate."
Even today, Gere pushes the definition of dance
to include not only action that occurs in the traditional stage
setting, but also street performances, where even protests become
choreography. He addresses these themes in his book How to
Make Dances in an Epidemic: Tracking Choreography in the Age of
AIDS (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004).
Gere earned an M.A. in music from the University
of Hawaii and then a Ph.D. in dance history and theory at UC Riverside.
He first came to UCLA in 1993, invited by WAC founder Judy Mitoma
’70, M.A. ’75 to give a talk about Meredith Monk,
a New York-based choreographer and the subject of Gere’s
master’s thesis. The following year Mitoma invited him back
as a visiting assistant professor. Academia, he found, was his
“It was fun and exciting to be with a strong
core of people focusing on dance,” he explains. And at a
large university, there were many opportunities for cross-pollinating
“David is a gifted and generous teacher,”
says Chris Waterman, dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture.
Gere, he says, easily blends art with scholarship and contemporary
cultural issues. “He likes to find ways to get students
to take theoretical knowledge and put it into practice.”
Gere has also been skillful at “connecting
the diffuse pieces of the university, placing the arts at the
center of the equation,” Waterman continues. “That’s
the real power of this idea [of Make Art/Stop AIDS]. He enjoys