Stephan Koplowitz to Choreograph Site-Specific Dances at Gustavus

Posted on January 26th, 2012 by

Stephan Koplowitz

Stephan Koplowitz, an award-winning director and choreographer internationally known for his work on the concert stage and for creating original site-specific multi-media works, will be in residence at Gustavus Adolphus College periodically during the next three months.

With support from a Sesquicentennial mini-grant, Koplowitz has been commissioned to create a series of site-specific dances that will involve current Gustavus students, alumni, The Govenaires Drum and Bugle Corps, the combined Gustavus choirs, and other students and faculty behind the scenes, in order to help celebrate the College’s 150th anniversary.

“Site-specific dance, and especially that of Stephan Koplowitz, seeks to honor the history, architecture, and community in a site en route to developing deeply rooted choreography,” said Gustavus Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre & Dance Jeffrey Peterson. “This is an opportunity to vividly display how Gustavus integrates the arts into its liberal arts curriculum, and broadcast it to a greater population.”

Koplowitz has already spoken with numerous Gustavus constituents in an effort to gather important information about the College’s history, community, future, and core values. He will visit campus for his first creative residency during Touring Break, from Jan. 28 to Feb. 5. He will return again for daily rehearsals beginning on April 14 until the performances on May 2 (MAYDAY!) and May 5 (Honors Day).

Koplowitz is planning on creating four unique site-specific dances that will each be performed on May 2 and May 5. The locations of those performances include Eckmann Mall, Torrey Atrium in Beck Hall, Christ Chapel, and various locations inside the C. Charles Jackson Campus Center. The performance on Eckmann Mall, for example, will include 30 dancers and 30 of the College’s Adirondack chairs lined up from the three flags to the doors of Christ Chapel. Further information about each performance including specific start times will be released in the future.

“For the students involved as performers, this is an invaluable opportunity to work with and perform for an internationally renowned, award-winning artist,” Peterson said. “Stephan’s process is wonderfully collaborative, and I am personally very excited to get started next week.”

A photo of Koplowitz's "Grand Step Project" -- one of his ongoing projects since 2004.

Koplowitz’s site work aims to alter people’s perspectives of place, site, and scale, all infused with a sense of the human condition. Since 1984 he has created 56 works and has been awarded 40 commissions. He is the recipient of a 2004 Alpert Award in the Arts, a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography, and a 2000 New York Dance and Performance Award. He is also the recipient of six National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowships. In 1996, his site-specific work “Genesis Canyon,” commissioned by the Dance Umbrella Festival, for the Natural History Museum in London, won Time Out magazine’s award for “Best Dance Production of 1996.” Along with his site-specific work, Koplowitz is currently Dean of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at California Institute of the Arts.

The performances on May 2 and 5 are free and open to the public. For more information about Koplowitz’s residency at Gustavus, contact Professor of Theatre & Dance Michele Rusinko at 507-933-7351 or For more information about Koplowitz and his prior work, go online to


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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