Stuart Pimsler is a choreographer, director, writer, performer, founder and Artistic Co-Director of Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater (SPDT). His work has been honored with Choreography Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and McKnight Foundation and 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, the Walker Art Center, The Wharton Center at Michigan State University among others. In 2012, Mr. Pimsler was a guest artist at the Beijing Modern Dance Festival and in 2014 was one of three U.S. choreographers invited to 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 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). He has served as panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, the McKnight Foundation, Bush Foundation and an array of arts councils and agencies throughout the U.S. In 2005, Pimsler founded The SAGE Awards for Dance, an annual celebration of outstanding dance achievements throughout Minnesota which he co-coordinated with Dana Kassel through 2016.
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. Most recently she was commissioned by Gilda’s Club of the Twin Cities to create and direct LISTEN/ Stories of Cancer told through Movement, Music & Voice. This performance work, which featured 23 participants from Gilda’s Club and the SPDT company, was presented at The Lab Theater in Minneapolis and will be the focus of a new television program produced by Twin Cities Public Television.
She has served as an expert at national conferences for the National Organization for Arts in Health as well as 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.
Heather Klopchin, originally from Goshen, New York, is an Associate Professor of Dance and currently Dance Department Chair 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. Heather is passionate about performing, choreographing, researching, and teaching dance and has had the opportunity over the years to work with many outstanding choreographers and companies in the Twin Cities and nationally. 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 Urbana-Champaign. Heather is currently in her ninth season with SPDT and is extremely grateful for the support from her husband, family, friends, and fellow SPDT members.
Jesse Neumann-Peterson, in his seventh season with SPDT, is a choreographer, performer, and visual artist. 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 Performer.
Katherine Griffis, in her fourth season with SPDT, 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.
Originally from central Iowa, Jennifer Pray is a 2012 Summa Cum Laude graduate from the University of Iowa, where she earned a BA in Dance & International Studies. Since moving to the Twin Cities, Jenn has had the honor to work with many choreographers and companies, including Threads Dance Project, STRONGmovement, Live Action Set, Ballet Minnesota, and Penny Freeh. As a choreographer, she has presented her work in festivals and galleries around the Midwest, as well as in Munich and Amsterdam. Jenn loves to share her passion for movement and mindfulness as a yoga and dance teacher in the Twin Cities, and is thrilled to be working with the artists of SPDT. Photo by Bill Cameron.
Stephen Patterson is a choreographer, performer, writer, and part-time gardener. He holds a BFA in Dance & Choreography from California Institute of the Arts. He has performed and shown work informally in Los Angeles and Minneapolis. Stephen is thrilled to be joining SPDT. He takes pride in his family and loves to laugh.
Darrius Strong is a Twin Cities based dancer, choreographer, and educator. Strong has performed in works by Uri Sands, Carl Flink, Penny Freeh, Larry Keigwin, Joanna Rosenthal, Gregory Dolbashian, Maurya Kerr, Shapiro & Smith, and The Martha Graham Dance Company. He has also performed works by the legendary jazz choreographer Clarence Teeters and David Voss in the 2015 production “Lost Voices in Jazz.” Strong developed his own dance company STRONGmovement in 2015, and is also a company member of Black Label Movement. He is also on faculty at St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, TU Dance Center, and Eleve Performing Arts Center where he focuses on teaching young dancers how to connect their identity to movement.
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.
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.
KARIN OLSON – LIGHTING DESIGNER/TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Karin Olson (Lighting Designer) has been SPDT’s principal lighting designer since 2006 was the lighting designer for SPDT’s Sage Award winning Ways to Be Hold. She also designs dance locally for Threads Dance Project, Twin Cities Ballet, Alternative Motion Project and TU Dance. Her theater designs can be seen at the Guthrie, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Syracuse Stage, Trinity Rep, Mixed Blood and the Ordway and she designs with loads of great itinerant theater companies including Frank Theatre, Theater Mu and Mu Daiko, Tigerlion Arts, and Walking Shadow. Karin was awarded Broadway World’s Best Lighting Design 2016 for Stages Theater Company’s Disney’s Little Mermaid Jr.