Wearing a full skirt that doubled as a cape, Stephanie Todd Wong brought the vision of a bullfight to life as she became a matador onstage dueling with an imaginary bull.
That Washington, D.C. performance a few years ago in Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter by famed dancer and choreographer Anna Sokolow was one of the highlights of Wong's dancing career -- a career that has since morphed into choreography, teaching and, most recently, the administrative side of the business.
Since 2011, Wong has been the executive director of Dance Source Houston, whose mission is to support artists and organizations that showcase them and to build an audience for dance in Houston. The group supports people in dance not just in Houston, but from all over.
Dance has always played a major role in Wong's life. "Like a lot of little girls, my mother put me in dance class when I was tiny and I just kind of never stopped." At the age of 16 she attended a summer program where she and other students had dance classes all day. She studied at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, and earned her bachelor's degree in dance and her Master of Fine Arts at George Mason University.
While in Washington D.C., Wong was able to choreograph and teach, which she did for ten years before moving to Houston. She presented her work at Joy of Motion and Dance Space and danced with the Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company.
"I probably had the most fun choreographing, then dancing and then teaching. Although I found all of them fulfilling in different ways." In doing so, she was taking advice from one of her university professors.
"My professor talked about how many different ways there are to connect to the field even if you're not dancing on the stage. That really stuck with me and it's something that I try to live."
What She Does: "Lead a nonprofit organization, it's focused on supporting professional dance and dancers in Houston. We're what's called a service organization, so we exist to provide services and to support the professional dance community."
"We do that in a variety of ways. By managing The Barn, the performance and rehearsal venue of the community. By occasionally providing performance opportunities. We also provide a lot of marketing support and try to help drive awareness of what's happening in the dance community."
Why She Likes It: "I like my job because I get to stay connected to the field that I love and I get to see the impact that we're making. I like helping people. I like helping artists do what they want to do and helping them do it better."
What Inspires Her: "I'm constantly inspired by the artists that we serve in the dance that's happening here in Houston and in the larger national scene. I find the art form to be very powerful, more so than other art forms. I would want to see it prosper and flourish, and I want to help others have the same powerful experiences that I have sitting in the theater watching these bodies move through space."
If Not This, Then What: "I haven't had a job that wasn't related to the dance field. So if I wasn't serving in this capacity, I'm sure I would find another way to service the field and really stay connected with the dance community."
If Not Here, Then Where: "I think home is where your family is. The specific location isn't as important to me as is being with my family and connected to the larger community. In a place where dance is happening and flourishing, then I can be connected to that."
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What's Next: "The last year has been kind of a transitioning year. We just took over The Barn in March of last year. So we are coming up on a year of managing the facility. It's been a transitioning year where we figured out how to do what it is that we are doing now and managing the space effectively."
"Now I'm looking forward to really maximizing the space. Finding ways that we can make it serve the community in a larger and better capacity."
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist Heather Gordy, artist Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer