When Stephanie Terasaki walks into a dance studio, the world is full of possibilities.
The 22-year-old California native, who joined GroundWorks in June (taking the place of GWDT’s Annika Sheaff while she is on maternity leave), has particularly enjoyed the company’s creative process – learning new pieces, challenging herself with different kinds of movement, working together with other dancers, and embracing discovery, both in herself and within the art.
“New pieces are fun because they’re created on you and the people you’re working with,” she says. “You don’t have the pressure of having to deliver a piece in a certain way. There’s more freedom and play within a creative process.”
GWDT’s Fall Dance Series will feature a set of three diverse works: Chicago choreographer Robyn Mineko Williams’ “Part Way,” Beth Corning of CORNINGWORKS’ reprisal of “At Once There Was a House” (first performed at GWDT in 2004) and GroundWorks’ own David Shimotakahara will debut a new work called “Chromatic.”
For Stephanie, rehearsing three very different works has been a challenge – but in that wonderful, soul-satisfying kind of way.
“I love Beth’s work because the challenge has been embodying the characters that we’re playing in the piece; for Robyn’s piece it’s very movement-oriented but you don’t want to make it washed over with those movements – you want an intention behind them and a specific narrative to drive you,” she says. “For David’s piece the challenge has been to coordinate the movements between the upper and lower body and figuring out how to move within the multi-layered music.”
Going from student to working dancer has also been a positive experience, she says. “I couldn’t have picked a better company,” the Juilliard graduate says about GroundWorks. “The working environment is great. I love how intimate it is. You really get to delve into the work and get to know the other dancers and the choreographer you’re working with.”
What does a typical day in the life look like for a GroundWorks dancer? Stephanie has ballet classes twice a week with 4-hour rehearsals in the afternoon. Performance day rituals include drinking kombucha on the morning of a show, “It makes me feel de-toxed and energized,” she says. “I feel light and good and ready to go.”
Since arriving in Cleveland from New York just five months ago, Stephanie says she’s been enjoying exploring the city with her friend and former Juilliard classmate, fellow GWDT dancer Michael Marquez. Her favorite things to do include taking in exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art, treasure hunting at the Cleveland Flea, and stocking up her tote bag with fresh produce, steak and seafood at the Westside Market.
She will dance with GroundWorks through November. After that, Stephanie might return to New York and take up a teaching position. “From there, I’ll see where it’ll take me,” she says. “I’ve been trying to keep the future open. I don’t want to narrow it down to anything specific. I’ll see what comes my way. I just want to get as much experience as I can.”