The best partnerships produce work that is timeless and perpetually relevant. Fitting then, in the case of Groundworks’ upcoming collaborative endeavor with New York-based Gibney Dance, the title of the piece should be Always.

The work was born out of a collaboration with Choreographer Gina Gibney in 2004. “Gina was one of the first guest choreographers I asked to work with our company,” says GroundWorks DanceTheater Executive Director, David Shimotakahara. “She brought to us a heightened awareness of task oriented creative process, and was incredibly generous with her time and knowledge. It was one of those collaborative experiences that make you hungry for more and we subsequently worked on two other projects with Gina.  I have always admired Gina both for her creativity and for her leadership. In my journey as an artist and heading a company, she has in many ways been a mentor over the years, I have been inspired by her example on so many levels, particularly in her ability to create community and enable creativity in others.”


When asked why revisiting the work this season was an attractive proposition, Shimotakahara sites his affinity for this work that he believes, “gets at the heart of Patsy Cline’s music, its moods and infectious melodies. The characterizations and situations that arise are often funny, tender, and a little sad all at the same time. It is a kind of dance theater that is not connected to a particular narrative and yet makes us think of all kinds of stories and memories.”

Amy Miller, Associate Artistic Director for Gina Gibney, is also fond of the way memory is evoked with this piece and had a lot to say about her past and current experience with GroundWorks as the Artistic Associate. “

[Always was] more whimsical than other work we were creating at GroundWorks at the time – we had a lot of fun working on it.” Miller is looking forward to working through the process of revisiting this piece as Gibney Dance has begun to perform outdoors in order to “bring dance to the people,” as part of their Dance Mobile program which will allow a whole new audience to create their own memories. “I’m excited to come back together to create a piece that will work well for both companies,” Miller says. “I believe we will be adding on another facet to piece via another song as well as creating a new section collaboratively with GroundWorks when the company visits us in Manhattan in a few weeks.”


In addition to an expansion of the musical score and accompanying performance, the companies will work together on casting and updating the existing choreography with new ideas. Miller believes the new settings (outdoors in New York, within the Allen Theater in Cleveland) will breathe new life and create different meanings for piece. Shimotakahara also feels that, “the people will bring their new discoveries to the work. [GroundWorks’] cast with the exception of Damien are all new to the work and even Damien was not one of the original cast.”

It’s clear that there is a synergy that this group of choreographers and dancers have and that there is much inspiration that flows from one company to the other throughout the creative process. Miller feels that GroundWorks is a special type of company: “They never stop! They keep moving forward. They have this constant curiosity – ‘Can we engage this way, get better that way?’ – never resting on last day and always moving forward. This is the only way [innovation] works & [Shimotakahara] tapped into it. It’s normal at GroundWorks versus what you see at many other places. GroundWorks’ company all want same thing…it’s amazing.”

Experience Always at the Allen Theatre on October 24 and 25. Tickets are available through the Allen Theatre Box Office.