Stephanie Gilliland is a seasoned artist and arts educator working for over thirty years as a choreographer, composer, film maker, performer and teacher. Since 1977 she has co-founded two dance collectives and created her own dance companies in New York and Southern California, most notably, TONGUE/contemporary dance based in Los Angeles from1996 to 2006.
Committed to experimentation, exploration and deep creative process, Gilliland has developed her own movement system and approach to choreography which continues to evolve and grow in collaboration with her dancers and students. She has choreographed and produced numerous concerts and evening length works and has been presented throughout the United States and abroad including Scotland, Mexico, the Soviet Union and Canada. In Los Angeles, Gilliland was presented in a wide variety of venues including Highways Performance Space, the Luckman Theatre and the Getty Center.
Gilliland is the recipient of a Creativity Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Dance Maker Grant from the James Irvine foundation and three Lester Horton awards for choreography and outstanding performance by a company. Her work has been supported by numerous organizations including Dance USA, the Durfee Foundation, Los Angeles Cultural Affairs and the California Arts Council.
Gilliland began her teaching career in1980 and has served on the dance faculties of UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Loyola Marymount University, Mt San Jacinto College, Riverside Community College and the Idyllwild Arts Academy. An advocate for dancers and emerging artists Gilliland has a strong commitment to teaching and community outreach and has been offering free community classes since1996.
In 2014 Gilliland and Lauren Smith formed Tongue Dance Project. Later joined by Adrianna Audoma, the three opened Floor Center for Dance in St. Johns in 2018. While Floor did not survive the pandemic, many wonderful classes, workshops and events took place, including In the Rough, a new works in progress performance series that Tongue plans on continuing to produce.
Over the past ten years Gilliland has spent her summers in Portland working with local dance artists, offering community class and occasional performances. Now a full time Portland resident she is looking forward to developing Tongue Dance Project, working towards creating opportunities for local dance artists and contributing to the growth of a vibrant dance community.