Tongue Dance Project was formed in 2014 by Stephanie Gilliland and Lauren Smith as a vehicle for choreographic exploration and artistic development in contemporary dance. Known to explore the realm of extreme physicality and athleticism, the focus of the company is the evolution, creation, and production of the artistic work of Gilliland in collaboration with the dancers. After relocating to Portland, Oregon from Southern California in 2017, the company has been committed to offering consistent, accessible open class. As of November 2018, TDP opened its own space in the St. John’s neighborhood of Portland, FLOOR Center for Dance. With its own space, Tongue is able to offer weekly classes for all ages and can provide a creative space for local and visiting artists to develop and share work.
Stephanie Gilliland // artistic director
Stephanie Gilliland is a seasoned artist and arts educator, with a 30-year history as a choreographer, composer, multimedia dance artist, performer and teacher. Since 1977 she has co-founded two dance collectives and created three of her own dance companies, most notably, TONGUE/contemporary dance, based in Los Angeles from 1997 to 2006.
Committed to innovation and experimentation, Gilliland has developed her own movement system and technique 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.
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. Her work has been supported by numerous granting organizations including Dance USA, the Durfee Foundation, Los Angeles Cultural Affairs, and the California Arts Council. In 2007 Gilliland was awarded a residency at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, CA.
Gilliland began her teaching career in 1980 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 where she is currently in her twenty-first year. In addition to her work in dance Gilliland is also a practitioner and teacher of yoga.
In 2013 Gilliland founded Tongue dance project with Lauren Smith. With a new focus on working as a collective Tongue dance project is committed to developing new choreographic voices as well as continuing to serve as a vehicle for Gilliland’s artistic exploration.
Lauren Smith // rehearsal director/performer
Lauren Smith is a graduate of the California State University, Long Beach Dance Department and has been teaching and coaching dancers for 13 years. She is a former member of the dance faculty at the Idyllwild Arts Academy and is the rehearsal director for Tongue Dance Project. Lauren has been training in dance since the age of three and has participated in prestigious dance competitions nation wide. Some of Lauren’s accomplishments include assisting for leading industry choreographers under Company Dance Convention, as well as being a national titlist for several dance competitions. Lauren has received scholarships to Broadway Dance Center and the Edge Performing Arts Center.
Since receiving her B.A. in Dance Lauren has pursued a deeper knowledge of the body through the study of Ashtanga Yoga, and in 2014 she became a NASM Certified personal trainer.
Lauren has been passionately focused on instilling a deeper knowledge of the art of dance to hundreds of students throughout the U.S., including working for non-profit organizations such as LA’s Best (which provides arts education to low-income neighborhoods) as well as dance studios, academies and Parks and Recreation Centers.
Adrianna Audoma // performer
Adrianna Audoma’s dance training began at the age of 7 at a local dance studio where she studied Royal Academy of Dance curriculum and completed multiple exams with honors. She went on to attended Idyllwild Arts Academy for four years and after graduating, accepted a place in University of California, Irvine’s dance department. After her first year she chose to withdraw and instead attended a five month training program in Jerusalem, Israel where she studied with Vertigo Dance Company, as well as former members of Batsheva Dance Company and Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company. Upon her return to the States, Adrianna began performing with Multiplex Dance Company under the direction of Chad Michael Hall and Tongue Dance Project under the direction of Stephanie Gilliland. She also began her career as an instructor and has now been teaching dance to children of all ages for 8 years. In addition to teaching and assisting, she is also a co-founder and manager of Portland’s newest dance studio, FLOOR Center for Dance.
Anna Olmstead // performer
Anna Olmstead is a Portland native who began her training at Classical Ballet Academy and was a company member of the Jefferson Dancers. She had the privilege of studying at summer intensives such as San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Robert Moses Kin, The Cambrians, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and others. Anna continued her explorations in dance at Dominican University of California with the Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA Program and graduated May 2018 with a BFA in Dance and a Minor in Arts management. In addition to her studies in college she worked with Juntos colletive, an organization dedicated to providing dance training to underserved communities in Central America. Since Graduating Anna has received her certification to become a GYROKINESIS® trainer, collaborated on works with multiple Portland artists, and continues to create her own work. Anna is excited to be dancing with
Tongue Dance Project this season.
Taylor Pasquale // performer
Taylor Pasquale is a movement based artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from George Mason University. A native of Northern VA, Taylor was a Freelance Performance Artist in Washington D.C. collaborating with PrioreDance, Company E, Terre Dance Collective, Motion X Dance DC, and Agora Dance. Performing internationally with PrioreDance in Cuba’s Vladimir Malakhov’s Grand Prix and presenting Julia Louis-Dreyfus the Mark Twain Award at the Kennedy Center are among her favorite performances thus far. In 2017, she was selected to present her choreography, “I” at John F. Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Taylor moved to Portland this Spring and has since co-presented work with Beth Whelan and is currently collaborating with Trevor Wilde for an upcoming show. Taylor is grateful to Tongue Dance Project for making her feel like Portland is now home.
Beth Whelan // performer
Beth Whelan is a movement-based artist with a BFA in Dance from George Mason University. As a freelance dancer and choreographer, she has presented work through the Regional Arts and Culture Council's Night Lights, Downright Productions' Amorphous, Polaris Dance Theater's Galaxy Festival, and performed in various works of local choreographers. In February of 2019, Beth and Trevor Wilde co-presented a shared evening of dance at Performance Works Northwest called Two of a Kind. Beth recently was awarded the White Bird Barney Commissioning Prize alongside Trevor Wilde and Shaun Keylock, and will be creating new work for the White Bird Uncaged Series. Prior to Portland, Beth performed alongside The Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra in their production of Swinging Through the Sky, Robert Battle’s Mass with the GMU Percussion Ensemble, freelanced with D.C.-based Company E at the Kennedy Center in their work (In)Security, as well as with Putty Dance Project in Philadelphia. Her writing on dance is published in Philadelphia's The Dance Journal and Oregon Arts Watch.
Willow Swanson // performer
Beginning with classical jazz, and soon expanding to a variety of styles including tap, hip hop, and contemporary, Willow Swanson fell in love with dance early on. Fascinated by other types of movement, as well as how to apply them to dance, she has also trained in Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Yoga, and Acrobatics, and rock climbs as another way to train. She has collaborated with a number of Portland locals such as DarVejon Jones, Alicia Cutaia, Jamuna Chiarini, Beth Whelan, Amelia Unsicker, and Katie Burkes, and her performance experiences include dancing with Portland companies Polaris Dance Theatre and Agneizska Laska Dancers, as well as the Vancouver-based company Horizon3 Dance. Credits also include performing with Victoria Perez at the Young Choreographer's Festival 2019 in New York City, showing and performing her own work at Chapel Theatre earlier the same year, and several small film roles. She currently teaches a diverse range of dance classes at studios across Vancouver and Portland and continues to work with dance companies and independent artists on several projects, including live shows, film and photography, and dance outreach.