It is both a risk and a dream to start your own company. You raise it like a child giving it your time and energy. And it takes all of your experience and more to raise it. Be The Groove, created in 2006, is the rhythmic loving child of Stephanie Paul and Davora Sides.
Stephanie Paul grew up as an athletic child. She danced from a young age until she was 13 and started again in high school – the
break between was so she could run track. Stephanie, also affectionately known as Steph Paul, did not dream of being a dancer on stage in front of an audience. She wanted to be a sports broadcaster until junior year in college at Northwestern University.
Paul was a part of a group called Boomshaka that focused on body percussion. It was through her experiences with this group that helped inspire the creation of Be The Groove. This was during the period of time when the Broadway show STOMP had fully established its found object performance art vein, reaching its tenth anniversary. The main idea with the creation of Be The Groove Paul says, was to use instrumentation and movement to express a specific idea. Their focus was to streamline some concepts from Boomshaka and create their own style of movement ideology. Paul says that Be the Groove’s focus on “idea first, then tools” is what sets the company apart from other rhythmic groups.
So what has Paul created with Be The Groove? It is performance art, rhythm, dance, movement, music and so much more. Paul currently an artist in residence at the Albany Park Theater Project where she brings movement and music to youth. Be The Groove has a touring show for schools called “Collective Beat”. “We can’t sleep on it… sharing with the youth is apart of who we are” as a company.
When asked for her favorite thing about the Chicago dance community Paul replied, “It’s the sense of community and family… our first show collaborating with M.A.D.D. Rhythms was incredible”. For such an established company to support Be The Groove as a young group was paramount to how the company operates now. “We are all about cultivating relationships with different companies” says Paul. Working with M.A.D.D. Rhythms, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Jump Rhythm Jazz and various others has strengthened the company. “We are looking to collaborate with more groups, even if that means being the instrumentation to a group or be the movement for a group of singers. What we do is unique, we can fit in a dance show or in a rhythm show and that opens doors.”
Be The Groove is not the new kid on the block any longer. Having a solid five years in its pocket, Steph Paul attributes the success of the company to the support of the Chicago dance community and the cast members and business partners of Be The Groove. “Everyone is performing and working to move the company forward” says Paul. From Kevin Durnbaugh as associate director, Jason Hanggi as director of operations, Kevin Brown director of education to each and every company member, Be The Groove operates as a self sufficient ensemble focusing on using each members talents.
Fun Facts about Steph Paul:
Favorite Colors: blue and purple
What would you do with an absolutely free day? (for fun) Go bowling. But really probably just relax and chill out. Maybe go get a mani pedi.