Written with Ellen Dobbyn-Blackmore
David Shimotakahara, Artistic Director of GroundWorks DanceTheater
Photo by Amy Arbus
GroundWorks DanceTheater, led by David Shimotakahara, is a Cleveland-based contemporary dance company that is brimming with creative energy. The company breaks new ground every year with two new works commissioned from outside choreographers in addition to new works created by Shimotakahara and Amy Miller. The company carries the authoritative air of a group of dedicated, like-minded artists performing work that they feel passionately about. The energy GroundWorks generates crackles off the stage in performance.
At the Dance Mix showcase, Shimotakahara's company presented selections from My Hummingbird at the High Line, a new work by choreographer Doug Elkins. The piece, a contemplation of the complexities of love, featured a cast of great individual dancers all of whom work well as an ensemble. They are distinctive and diverse in their individual styles ranging from the liquid legato of Annika Sheaff to the sinuous muscularity of Felise Bagley and the sly humor of Noelle Cotler. Damien Highfield and Gary Lenington did great work in their give and take partnering. They pushed and pulled each other, giving the piece a balance between friendliness and subtle antagonism. Overall these dancers exude the quality of fully realized, thinking artists.
At the heart of this company is Shimotakahara's desire to engage with the audience and have a meaningful relationship with them. GroundWorks has just begun a partnership with Cleveland State University to share some resources including access to artistic partners and theatrical space in the Allen Theater in Cleveland's Playhouse Square. Shimotakahara sees community relationships as an essential element in keeping dance relevant. He took the time before the performance to talk about his company's direction.
GroundWorks DanceTheater in performance
Q: How do you like the APAP experience?
This is the first time we've been to APAP. We were fortunate enough to be part of Ronen Koresh's showcase because we have a great relationship with him. He created a piece on GroundWorks and he loved the company. It's a great opportunity.
Q: How are you getting your bookings right now?
We go to regional conferences where we get to showcase our work. Most of our bookings come through word of mouth and relationships with people that we know. We don't have an agent.
Andrew is a lifelong traveler and cook. Born into a military family, he became used to moving frequently and having to learn new things. He enjoys the rich variety of life. After a first career as a dancer with the Hartford Ballet and Ohio Ballet companies, Andrew did his undergraduate degree at the University of Akron and then went to Kent State for graduate school. All along the way he has been a cook in restaurants from New Orleans to New York City. Andrew also collaborates with his writing partner, Vikas Khanna, on cookbooks in addition to the Holy Kitchens film series. Andrew is the writer of Flavors First, recently published by Lake Isle Press. |