Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater (SPDT) is an internationally recognized performance company, founded in 1979 by Stuart Pimsler, and co-directed with Suzanne Costello since 1984. The company has been presented throughout the US and internationally in Canada, Europe, Israel, Taiwan, Russia, Bermuda, China, and Mexico. SPDT’s community inclusive work, which engages a diverse array of groups - students, caregivers, audiences, and community members - has been lauded as a “National Model” by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and its Arts & Healthcare work has been recognized for “Best Practices” by the National Endowment for the Arts.
SPDT has been a Twin Cities-based performance company for 15 years. The company’s singular and elaborate work has garnered critical acclaim for its ability to situate highly physical, emotional vocabulary within stunning theatrical landscapes. In these imagistic worlds, SPDT creates poetic stories focused on love, loss, and the need for connection. SPDT’s gifted company of performers and collaborating designers continues to realize a signature vision of “theater for the heart and mind”.
In the U.S., SPDT's work has been presented at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Dance Theater Workshop (NYC), Jacob's Pillow, and The American Dance Festival, among many others. The company has twice been presented by the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. The Ends of Love was commissioned in 2007 for the inaugural season of its new space, and invited back in 2009 to present Tales of Longing over a two-week run. In 2006 Dancing Wheels, the first stand up/sit down company in the U.S. commissioned a new SPDT work, Big Trucks and Leverage, for both companies which was premiered to critical acclaim in Cleveland, Ohio. The company’s Undercovers, commissioned by Pathways, was presented at the Illusion Theater and featured as part of a PBS documentary, Dance in the Dark, broadcast throughout the 2007-2008 viewing season. SPDT received a 2008 SAGE Award for Outstanding Performance for Pimsler's work, Ways to Be Hold.
Internationally, the company’s work has been presented in Canada, Europe, Israel, Taiwan, Russia, Bermuda, China, and Mexico. In 2012, SPDT was the only US company selected to perform on the official program of the Internationale Tanzmesse in Dusseldorf, Germany. In 2013 and 2014, SPDT engaged doctors, nurses, university students, and local community members with two-week residencies and performances in Mexico City with support from the U.S. Embassy, the National Center for the Arts, and the Roberto Cantoral Cultural Center. A highlight of the company’s 25th Anniversary included an international tour sponsored by the Bermuda Ministry of Culture. In February 2014, SPDT celebrated their 35th Anniversary at The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis, MN with a retrospective show of artistically significant and critically acclaimed works of SPDT’s history.
SPDT’s Community Connections Programs reach a diverse array of audiences both locally and nationally. The company’s community inclusive work has been lauded as a "National Model" by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for their ability to be inclusive of a wide range of cultural groups (Learning Audiences, 1997). SPDT's Arts & Healthcare work has been recognized for "Best Practices" by the National Endowment for the Arts. SPDT was honored to serve in the past as the resident company at F.A.I.R. Downtown, a WMEP fine arts interdisciplinary school located in Minneapolis. At FAIR, SPDT was responsible for the school’s dance curriculum including teaching junior and senior high school students in the areas of dance techniques, choreography, and history. SPDT’s WASH, Working with Artists, Sharing the Healing, brings together artists and caregivers in focusing on the connection between creative expression and personal health.
Selected by CityPages as Twin Cities “Artist of the Year” in 2004, Stuart is celebrating thirty-five years as Artistic Co–Director of SPDT. His work has been honored with Choreography Fellowships from the McKnight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts as well as a Major Fellowship and six Individual Fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council. Mr. Pimsler has been commissioned by the Guthrie Theater, the Lila Wallace Arts Partners Fund, National Performance Network Creation Fund, the Jerome Foundation, the Wexner Center, University of Minnesota, and the Walker Art Center, among others. Mr. Pimsler's first children's play, My Grandmother's Tsotchkes; Tales of a Gambling Grandmother had its national premiere in March 2010 at SteppingStone Theatre, St. Paul. In 2012, Mr. Pimsler was a guest artist at the Beijing Modern Dance Festival and in 2014 was one of three U.S. choreographers to attend the 20th annual Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) in Brisbane, Australia under the auspices of American Dance Abroad. Mr. Pimsler holds an A.B. in English from Franklin & Marshall College and a J.D. from Catholic University School of Law. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1975 and the following year was accepted as an M.F.A. Fellow in Dance at Connecticut College. His mentors have included Martha Myers, past Dean of the American Dance Festival and past Chair of the Connecticut College Dance program, and Daniel Nagrin, whose solos Spanish Dance (1948) and Word Game (1968) he continues to perform. As cultural activist, Mr. Pimsler has served on the Board of Directors of Dance/USA (1990-97) and the Steering Committee of the National Performance Network (1992-95). In 2005, Stuart Pimsler founded The SAGE Awards for Dance, which is an annual celebration of outstanding dance achievements in the Twin Cities community. He co-coordinates the yearly event with Dana Kassel. www.sageawards.org
Suzanne Costello joined Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater in New York City in 1979 and became its Artistic Co-Director in 1984. During her career with the company, she has been highlighted as a performer, choreographer, teacher, and rehearsal director. As Director of Arts & Education and Arts & Healthcare Programs for the company, she coordinates and facilitates the many community-inclusive projects SPDT has come to be known for nationally and internationally. She has served as an expert at national conferences for the Global Alliance for Arts & Healthcare as well as serving on panels for the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Ohio Arts Council, COMPAS, and CultureWorks, among others. Ms. Costello’s choreographic work has been honored with three Individual Artist Fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and has been commissioned by national dance companies and individual artists. She directed and choreographed CATS for Broadway at Iroquois, Louisville; Go, Dog, Go! for Metro Theater Company, St. Louis, and Stage One, Louisville; and choreographed Grimm Tales for Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis. She has twice been a Cowles Guest Artist as well as Affiliate Faculty for six years at the University of Minnesota. She has also been a guest artist at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and abroad. In New York City, Costello performed with several companies, including David Gordon Pick Up Co. and Billy Siegenfeld & Dancers. She has continued her association with Mr. Gordon, who has set a number of works on SPDT. She has also worked with colleague Joe Goode in San Francisco who created a new solo for her, Movie Star Life. Ms.Costello first began her study of dance under Annelise Mertz at Washington University in St. Louis, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Dance.
Brian Evans is a Professional Performing Human. For the past eight years, Evans has had the privilege and pleasure working with SPDT and serving as Musical Director. Throughout his career, Evans has taught in public and private institutions, worked with healthcare providers in the US and abroad, and performed as a singer, actor, and dancer in churches, theaters, basements, outdoor stages, and any space provided that encourages the arts to thrive. As an artist striving for social justice, Evans places high value in process and product, having had most of his training in the 'Arts field' of the Twin Cities, working with over 50 artistic directors on more than 200 projects from solo endeavors to collaborations as a self-employed professional performer and teaching artist. Since graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College with a B.A. in Liberal Arts, Evans has continued to investigate the idea that connections exist between us all and it is the responsibility of the arts to rediscover those connections, highlight them, and allow us to feel holistically human.
Katherine Griffis has been dancing since the age of three after proving her inability to sit still during violin lessons. Her natural drive to move was nurtured as a studio dancer in Woodbury, MN where she trained for fifteen years in the styles of tap, jazz, ballet, and lyrical. Katherine’s passion for dance led her to St. Olaf College where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with departmental distinction in dance in May 2015. She is honored to be a part of Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater working with incredibly talented and thoughtful artists. In addition to performing with SPDT, Katherine is an instructor of dance, finding no greater joy than sharing the love and power of movement with others.
Heather Klopchin originally from Goshen, New York, is an Associate Professor of Dance at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where she teaches Ballet Technique, Modern Dance Technique, and Dance History as well as choreographing for the St. Olaf Dance Department’s student company, Companydance. She holds a B.S. degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo and an M.F.A. in Dance Choreography and Performance from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Heather is currently in her fifth season with SPDT, and in addition to performing has worked as a teaching artist for SPDT’s educational residencies and taken part in SPDT’s Caring for the Caregiver workshops. Heather is extremely grateful for the support from her family, friends, and fellow SPDT members.
Kari Mosel, hails from Eau Claire, Wisconsin where she grew up riding horses, climbing trees, and tripping over her own feet. She received her BFA in Dance from the University of Minnesota in 2004. Kari began her professional career with Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater in 2005 when she was invited to participate in a special event performance with them at the Wellstone Theater in St. Paul. In 2006 she became a principal company member and teaching artist with SPDT, performing with them nationally and internationally. She is currently in her 9th season with the company! Kari has assisted SPDT in workshops and residencies that range throughout the educational and healthcare fields. She was SPDT’s company manager from 2009-2011 and currently serves as their video editor and archivist. Throughout her career she has had the pleasure to dance with many phenomenal Twin Cities Artists. Kari is a recipient of a 2013 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Dancers and was nominated for a SAGE Dance Award for "Outstanding Performer" in 2012. She has also been a performer and administrative assistant with Shapiro & Smith Dance since 2002. In addition to performing she choreographs her own work and is currently working as a free-lance photographer and videographer throughout the twin cities. She hopes to continue finding new mediums and outlets in which to view, question and explore art.
Jesse Neuman-Petersen is a choreographer, performer, and visual artist currently in his third season with SPDT. He started his dance training as a teenager with the Duluth Ballet under Artistic Director, Nancy Gibson, and has studied dance at the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Jesse has recently performed with Flying Foot Forum, Vanessa Voskuil, Sharon Picasso and Rosy Simas. Jesse is a recipient of the 2014 Sage Award for "Outstanding Dance Performance".
Scott Stafford is a proud native of Detroit, MI, earning his BA from Michigan State University. A lover of all things dance history, he has performed the works of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, and would like to thank his long-time mentor Sherrie Barr for instilling in him a critical lens toward viewing dance – expanding beyond the proscenium to the anthropological, therapeutic, historic, and restorative. While in Lansing, Scott performed with Happendance under the artistic direction of Missy Lilje, where he also conducted educational outreach in local communities with their joint organization, Happendance To-Go. In October of 2013, Scott made his move to the Twin Cities -- and is thrilled to be working with the intelligent and inspiring members of SPDT.
Robin Brooks - Director of Development
Robin Brooks holds a B.A. from Smith College and has been with SPDT since 1993. She is responsible for development writing, foundation research, and company bookkeeping.
Brenda Nepsund - Company Administrator
Brenda Nepsund graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a B.S. in Dance and a B.S. in Mass Media. In addition to working with SPDT, she teaches dance classes at Raddatz Dance Studio in West St. Paul and Touch of Grace in Hutchinson.
Karin Olson - Lighting Designer/Technical Director
Karin Olson has been SPDT’s principal lighting designer since 2006 and also works with other local dance companies Threads Dance Project, Twin Cities Ballet, Alternative Motion Project, and TU Dance. She has also designed at the Guthrie, the Ordway, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Syracuse Stage, and with loads of great local theater companies including Frank Theatre, Mixed Blood, Theater Mu and Mu Daiko, Tigerlion Arts, Stages, SteppingStone, and Walking Shadow. Karin was the lighting designer for SPDT’s Ways to Be Hold, which received a Sage Award in 2008 and was honored with Broadway World’s Best Lighting Design 2016 for Stages Theater Company’s Disney’s Little Mermaid Jr.
Kathleen Pender - Company Manager
Kathleen Pender graduated from St. Olaf College in 2013 with a B.A. in Dance. In addition to working with SPDT, she teaches dance classes at the Northfield Arts Guild in Northfield, MN and with Young Dance in Minneapolis, MN.
MERRITT RODRIGUEZ - Lighting Designer
Merritt Rodriguez is a Lighting Designer and technician for theater and dance. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Theater from Florida State University and is currently based out of Minneapolis Minnesota. She is excited to be working with Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater and would like to thank Karin Olson for her support. Some of her other credits include; Zorongo Flamenco's Sol y Lunatour, Sunset Gun Production's The BluePrint Project, and Theater Forever's Muy Very Authentico.
- ** Photography by V. Paul Virtucio, unless noted otherwise