It’s almost poetic how choreographer Elizabeth Mikautadze met her husband, David, a composer.
She was a dance student at the Boston Conservatory, and he was attending Berklee College of Music. Both private schools shared a cafeteria, which is where the two first met their musical match.
When we met in college, our friendship was based on our idea of art, Elizabeth Mikautadze says. I was dancing professionally, but I had in my mind that I wanted to choreograph dances. Our talks developed into opening a dance company someday.
Collaborating artistically and matrimonially for 14 years, the Mikautadzes are seeing their dreams take shape.
The Mikautadze Dance Theatre company will perform its first full-length show, The Gallery of Impressions, as IPFW’s company-in-residence.
Elizabeth Mikautadze says being married to a composer has been a benefit to the company since opening in 2008.
I think it’s actually ideal. As a choreographer, I like to work with living composers to get some input. It makes my work better because it helps with the intricacies of the music, she says. It works really well; there are not too many choreographers that have that situation.
Gallery of Impressions will present the company’s seven dancers performing in a series of works that incorporates live music and technology.
David Mikautadze will conduct the Fort Wayne Flute Choir in their performance of Seductions of Spring, a commissioned score by composer Joseph Marcello. Singer Fernando Tarango and funk band Back in Effect will also perform.
David Mikautadze says it’s important for their performances to be current and push the envelope. The couple collaborated with graphic artists to design a digital visual presentation for one of the performances.
For us being an artistic organization, we should always deal with two things: artistic expression, which has no bounds and no limits, and dealing with keeping audiences interested. You want a bridge between what inspires you and what interests the audience, he says.
After graduation, the couple settled first in New York City to begin their careers.
In 2000, Elizabeth Mikautadze joined New York’s Mereminne Dancers and Buglisi/Foreman Dance Company; David Mikautadze was an audio technology consultant.
Realizing the hardships of starting a company within New York City’s fiercely competitive dance community, the couple put aside their dance company aspirations.
In 2003, David Mikautadze accepted a position in Fort Wayne as a sales engineer at Sweetwater Sound, transplanting the two to the Midwest.
Elizabeth Mikautadze, who is now an adjunct professor of ballet and modern dance at IPFW and a teacher at the Fort Wayne Dance Collective, says they sensed more of an opportunity to open a dance company in a smaller city.
Five years after moving to Fort Wayne, they founded Mikautadze Dance Theatre, starting with six dancers. The three principal dancers, who are performing in the upcoming show, have been with the company since the beginning.
I think one of the challenges of beginning a dance company was finding adult dancers who have a high quality of dancing. It’s hard to find that level of modern dance in a small town, Elizabeth Mikautadze says.
As an established dance company for four years, Mikautadze Dance Theatre was named IPFW’s company-in-residence in 2012.
The partnership gives the company a rehearsal space three days a week, and a performance space to present their own shows.
Elizabeth Mikautadze says the company has been welcomed by the local arts community.
We’ve performed regularly at the Dance Collective and in Fort Wayne festivals since we’ve been incorporated, and we’re also regional arts advocates with the Arts United. We just have been asked to perform in the Philharmonic’s Young People’s concert. We’re really excited about that, she says.
From daydreaming across a lunch table to producing their first full-length performance, Gallery of Impressions will serve as a completed goal for the couple’s professional and personal lives.
I couldn’t be more thrilled. Back when David I started talking about this, it was just a dream.
Now that it is really happening, I kind of have to pinch myself.