David Shimotakahara



Founder, Artistic Director of GroundWorks; Dance Magazine‘s “One of 25 to Watch”; Co-founder, New Steps; Principal Dancer, Ohio Ballet; Cleveland Arts Prize 2000 for Dance; seven-time recipient, Ohio Arts Council Individual Fellowship, 2010 CAC Workforce Fellowship


My wife Pandora, Thelonious Monk, the ocean, Montreal smoked meat, full houses, short stories, my cat Zoey, asymmetry.


Executive Artistic Director David Shimotakahara founded GroundWorks in 1998, determined to challenge the preconceptions about dance. This desire to push boundaries is evident in Shimotakahara’s bold initiative: To seek collaboration and input from guest choreographers of the highest caliber and to constantly evolve the repertoire of the company.

Over the past 15 years, GroundWorks has created and produced over 60 original works. Twenty-one of these have been commissioned from nationally and internationally renowned guest artists. In addition, Shimotakahara has contributed over 30 pieces to the company’s rep. His work is about here and now. He is interested in framing issues surrounding individuality, privacy, place, and connectivity through movement that speaks through its musicality and physicality.

Shimotakahara’s performance history includes: member of the Atlanta Ballet, Boston Repertory Ballet, Kathryn Posin Dance Company, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. He performed with Ohio Ballet under the direction of Heinz Poll from 1983-1999. He also served as Rehearsal Assistant for Ohio Ballet from 1989-1999. From 1989-97, Mr. Shimotakahara founded and was Director of New Steps. This acclaimed dance project offered a variety of programs that stimulated the creation and growth of new choreography in Northeast Ohio. Mr. Shimotakahara has choreographed for opera and theater with the Cleveland Opera, Great Lakes Theater Festival and the Dallas Theater Center. He served on the Carlisle Project advisory panel in 1996, and dance panels for the Ohio Arts Council, Illinois Arts Council, the Mid Atlantic Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received 7 Individual Artist Fellowships for Choreography from the Ohio Arts Council from 1996 to 2012. In 1998, he received a McKnight Foundation Fellowship from the Minnesota Dance Alliance to create new work in the Minneapolis, St. Paul communities. Mr. Shimotakahara was awarded the 2000 Cleveland Arts Prize for Dance. In 2002 his work with GroundWorks DanceTheater was voted “One of 25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine. In 2007, he received the OhioDance award for Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of the Dance Artform. Mr. Shimotakahara was a 2008 recipient of the first COSE Arts and Business Innovation awards as the founder of GroundWorks DanceTheater. In 2010 Shimotakahara received a Creative Workforce Fellowship, a program of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, funded by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.


The Creative Workforce Fellowship: 2014


The Creative Workforce Fellowship: 2010


Cleveland Arts Prize: 2000