School of Music, Theatre and Dance

A Life in Dance: Stephanie Pizzo

A passion for dance leads OU alumna to role as artistic director for Eisenhower Dance Detroit

icon of a calendarSeptember 20, 2019

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A Life in Dance: Stephanie Pizzo
Stephanie Pizzo
In this 2009 photo, Stephanie Pizzo (center) shares a smile with Professor Emerita of Dance Laurie Eisenhower and Associate Professor of Dance Gregory Patterson after winning the MaTilDa Alumni Achievement Award in Dance.

Long before she became the new artistic director of Eisenhower Dance Detroit — a professional contemporary dance company based in Metro Detroit — Stephanie Pizzo discovered her passion for dance on the campus of Oakland University.

“OU was the beginning of learning about myself — my true self,” Pizzo said. “The dance faculty at OU molded me into the artist I am today and I am proud of the education and training I received there.”

Pizzo is a native of Clinton Township, Mich. and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from OU. In 2009, she received a Distinguished Alumni or “MaTilDa” award from the School of Music Theatre and Dance. She is currently a special lecturer in dance at OU.

“Because I have such a passion for the dance department of Oakland University, Eisenhower Dance Detroit is committed to give back in any way possible and strive to continue the longstanding relationship we share,” Pizzo said. “I would not be where I am — nor would Eisenhower Dance Detroit — without the dance department at Oakland University.”

Pizzo was a recent graduate of Oakland University when the met Laurie Eisenhower, professor emerita of dance at OU. In 1991, Eisenhower founded as Eisenhower Ensemble (now Eisenhower Dance Detroit) with help from Pizzo and other talented dancers, and EDD has grown over the past 28 years to become the premier dance company in the state of Michigan and beyond.

“We have toured all over the United States, as well as Poland, Israel and Russia,” Pizzo said.

In 2017, EDD began a new chapter as Eisenhower retired and Pizzo, the long-time assistant artistic director, took over the helm as artistic director.

“We worked beautifully together for 26 years and Stephanie’s efforts helped the company grow from a small ensemble into an internationally-touring company,” Eisenhower said. “When I decided to step down as artistic director, I walked away knowing I was handing my life’s work over to someone who could continue the legacy I had built. And of course, this has been true! The company is continuing to forge new paths in the dance world.”

As artistic director, Pizzo’s mission has been to collaborate with the highest quality national and international artists, and she plans to focus on creating strong ties with the Detroit Metro area community through the art of dance. She has set her own choreography at Illinois State University, Texas A&M University, and Wesleyan University, as well as staged works by Laurie Eisenhower on numerous companies and universities throughout the United States.

Her work has also been presented in Tel Aviv, Israel as part of Eisenhower Dance Detroit’s production of The Light Show, at many dance festivals in Poland and on the Inside/Out Stage at Jacob’s Pillow.

On Oct. 26 and 27, Pizzo and the EDD dancers will present Eye of the Beholder in OU’s Varner Recital Hall. The program features the performers as they investigate the literal and figurative dimensions of perspective, how it shapes judgement, and what impact it has on culture and society. Tickets are $18 general, $10 for students and can be purchased online at etix.com.

To learn more about Stephanie Pizzo and Eisenhower Dance Detroit, including upcoming performances, visit http://www.eisenhowerdance.org/.

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