Stephanie Liapis, New Dance Professor, ‘absolute perfect person for this.’


Emma Cohen, Reporter

Stephanie Liapis has been introduced to California Lutheran University as the new dance professor. 

“I specifically really wanted to teach in the dance program because I went to the dance concert, and I was so impressed with the student works and how kind and generous Michael Arndt and Barbara were to me,” Liapis said.

According to her website, Liapis’ dance experience took her around the world, and she worked with multiple dance companies. One of which is Doug Varone and Dancers, who she still teaches and restages for. Liapis received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from New York University Tisch School of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Washington.

Cal Lutheran professor Barbara Wegher-Thompson, head of dance, speaks highly of Liapis and is grateful to have someone with a significant background in dance. She says she knows Liapis will bring the dance program to the next level.

“When we met, I could see the quality of her being and the quality I could tell she is as a person and that she will bring to teaching. I just thought that this was the absolute perfect person for this,” Wegher-Thompson said.

Liapis is currently teaching Modern Dance, Intro to Choreography, and is leading the Mainstage Production for the dance department at Cal Lutheran.

“I think what Barbara and the other teachers have built is so beautiful,” Liapis said. “The dance faculty has done and continues to do such an amazing job that my transition into CLU has been so seamless and has allowed me to experiment and explore movement and choreography with the students from a different perspective.”

Taryn Gaulke, third-year student in Liapis’ choreography class, said they are starting the semester by putting themselves in various mindsets in order to better understand movement and how to choreograph. 

“Stephanie sees everyone as their own individual dancer, and a lot of the time she says, ‘Don’t look at yourself in the mirror, just move,’ and I really like that,” Gaulke said.

Wegher-Thompson also talked about how Liapis has a background and passion for screendance, dance created to be filmed. At the end of the semester, Liapis’ students will complete a site-specific screendance instead of a live performance. 

“I’m excited about this idea of site-specific work because CLU is so beautiful, and I think that it’ll be good for the school and the students to see their space used in a very creative, artistic, interesting way,” Liapis said.

The site-specific work entails her students taking a compositional idea, then finding a space on campus that speaks to their idea. The dance is made specifically for those chosen spaces, and the students will also get to learn a bit about camera work, perspectives, and angles so they can construct a dance intended for the camera. 

Jennie White, third-year student who’s a departmental assistant for the Theatre and Dance Department and stage manager said she is excited about having a professor with experience in screendance and that Liapis continues to be enthusiastic about her students’ progress. 

Liapis says her hope for the semester is to experiment, try new things, and get to know one another while creating a community.