GroundWorks DanceTheater Gets People Moving with "It's Your Move" Project

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture recently spoke with GroundWorks DanceTheater’s managing director Beth Rutowski about the dance company’s It's Your Move project.

In a nutshell, "It's Your Move" is a video project that encourages people to send a video of themselves moving. GroundWorks asks you to “move” in response or reaction to a "move" they initiate through a video prompt sent out by email, Facebook, etc . In the coming weeks, GroundWorks will send out a “move of the week” and the hope is that people will be inspired to show us their “move.”

Q: For those who don’t know GroundWorks, how would you sum up the work the organization does?

A: GroundWorks DanceTheater is a professional dance company that creates and presents groundbreaking contemporary dance of the highest artistic caliber. We focus on original work that embraces risk and imagination, explores human experience, encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, and expands the parameters of how and where dance is presented. Founded by David Shimotakahara in 1998, GroundWorks is now in its 15th season and has produced over 60 original works. Twenty-one of these have been commissioned from nationally and internationally renowned guest artists, with thirty by Artistic Director Shimotakahara and others by Artistic Associate Amy Miller.

Q: Tell us more about “It’s Your Move.” How was the idea for the project generated?

A: We learned long ago through our outreach activities with students and other things we do in the community, if we can get people to move or dance with us, we can make deep and lasting connections. Everyone moves and there is something about movement that connects us all. We also wanted to provide the chance for a two-way exchange with people. Attending our shows is a one-way exchange and as much as we love to give audiences great dance performance, we were looking for a chance to get people to actually participate with us, when and where they choose. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun!

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the project?

A: Along with creating a portal for two-way exchange and connecting to people in new ways, we also want to drive folks to our new website, which is filled with great information about the new work GroundWorks is creating and other projects we’re involved with. In the coming weeks, we plan to head out to events and neighborhoods throughout the area to let people know about “It’s Your Move” and to collect new moves from people we meet. With this phase of the project, we hope to establish relationships with people and partnering organizations that will lead to greater awareness of our organization and our work, and hopefully lead to new collaborations and outreach opportunities.

Q: For those who aren’t dancers, it might be a surprise to see some of the featured “moves” look less like dance and more like everyday movements. How does that align with the goals of the project?

A: That is really the key to this project. Everyone moves every day and although we can’t all move like the professional artists of GroundWorks, there is a through-line between what we do. And this project is about finding that commonality and making that connection. In our performances, we explore themes that connect us to each other, so this is an outgrowth of that: exploring movement that connects us as well.

Q: As a Cultural Partner in Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s General Operating Support program, how has public funding impacted GroundWorks DanceTheater and projects like “It’s Your Move?”

A: Throughout our 15 years, GroundWorks has been committed to being an integral part of this community and committed to producing and presenting great art that is created right here, which is our central mission. The general operating support we receive from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture helps us achieve this. But we are constantly seeking new ways to increase our public value and we are grateful for the encouragement that CAC gives us to explore new ideas and to deepen the relationship with the community we call home.

To send GroundWorks your move, or learn more about the project, visit, and watch the "It's Your Move!" Video Intro