GroundWorks DanceTheater to Premiere new Rosie Herrera Work

“Luna” by David Shimotakahara.  Photo by Mark Horning.
“Luna” by David Shimotakahara. Photo by Mark Horning

By Steve Sucato

In its 15th season Cleveland’s GroundWorks DanceTheater continues to make its mark as a quality dance troupe with its finger on the pulse of cutting-edge American contemporary dance. The five-member troupe’s latest program at Cleveland’s Breen Center for Performing Arts continues its string of new works by up-and-coming choreographers with a world premiere by Miami-based choreographer Rosie Herrera.

Herrera’s new work entitled “House Broken,” is a departure of sorts from some of the more recent works the company has commissioned in that it has a more whimsical approach. Like dance icon Paul Taylor, GroundWorks artistic director David Shimotakahara says he creates or commissions new works to add to the company’s repertory based on a perceived need.  So if the company has added several more serious new works, he will look to add something lighter.

“You curate your repertory over time,” says Shimotakahara. “To me it’s about extending the range of works in an intentional way.”

Shimotakahara says he also looks at adding new works that will stretch his dancer’s capabilities as artists. In a work-in-progress showing of “House Broken” this past November, Herrera’s prop-laden dance-theater piece (contains adult content) looked to do just that.

Set to an eclectic mix of music from Tom Jones, The Turtles, Pete Seeger and Roberta Flack along with sound effects of lawn mowing, “House Broken” is a somewhat dark humored satire of stereotypical suburban life.

“Luna” by David Shimotakahara.  Photo by Mark Horning
“Luna” by David Shimotakahara. Photo by Mark Horning

“Her work takes off from the use dramatic prompts,” says Shimotakahara. “She then pushes and pushes those beyond the obvious to get to the essence of a character or characterization.”

It’s an approach the 2013 Princess Grace Award recipient has honed in works for her own company, Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre, such as the acclaimed “Various Stages of Drowning: A Cabaret” and “Dining Alone”.

Also on the program will be a reprise of Shimotakahara’s 2013 work “Luna”, set to music by composer Peter Swendsen, an associate professor of computer music and digital arts at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. The work, says Shimotakahara, came out of a movement exercise that led to circular patterns and the “physical exploration of two sets of polarities: lost and found, give and take and how those opposite points constantly overlap and affect the recurring cycles in our lives.”

Rounding out the Winter Series program will be Gibney Dance associate artistic director Amy Miller’s 2008 work “For the Life of Me”. Set to music by Ingrid Michaelson, Amy Borkowsky, Steven Tyler and Giorgio Conte, the work earned Miller a 2012 Cleveland Arts Prize nomination. The playful work full of twirls, jumps, lifts and spins expresses the inner child in all of us.

GroundWorks DanceTheater presents its Winter Series program, 7:30 p.m., Friday, February 28 & Saturday, March 1, 2014 at The Breen Center for Performing Arts, 2008 West 30th Street, Cleveland, Ohio. Tickets are $25.00/preferred seating, $20/general and $10.00/students; (216) 751-0088 or

“House Broken” was commissioned with the generous support of Chuck and Charlotte Fowler to the GroundWorks NewWorks Fund.

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