Elizabeth and David met at the prestigious Boston Conservatory, where she was studying dance and he was studying film scoring and composition. The pair, whom Elizabeth describes as best friends, moved to Fort Wayne in 2003 when David got a job at Sweetwater Sound, one of the many creative people the music company has lured to Northeast Indiana.
A native of Lancaster, Pa., Elizabeth has been a dancer most of her life. A knee injury while at the Boston Conservatory sidelined her for six months, and it was then that she began studying choreography in depth.
“I realized I had a real passion for creating dance,” she said. After graduation, she went to New York City and danced at the Martha Graham Dance Center as well as with another dance company, while her husband was doing computer work in the World Trade Center. Then September 11, 2001, happened, and though David wasn’t in the towers that day, the couple began to plan to leave New York.
“It was a hard adjustment,” she said of living for a time without a dance community. “I pushed that part of me aside. I was just enjoying having financial stability and not being in that rush.”
Still, the urge to dance and to create dances proved too strong, and she began teaching at the Fort Wayne Dance Collective and at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, teaching both modern dance and ballet.
“I really love teaching,” she said, “the choreography, the creation of the dance. I threw myself into it.”
After the couple’s daughter, Juliette, was born, Elizabeth began thinking about putting together a dance company and the Mikautadze Dance Theatre was born.
“I try to tie each piece together with skits,” she said. “I have five dancers who have all been with me since the beginning and I’m really happy about that.”
And the style?
“It’s got its roots in classic modern dance,’ she said. “I can’t help but be influenced by (Martha) Graham. It’s infused with a little bit of jazz, some contemporary dance and ballet. My main goal as a choreographer … is to make each piece different so it’s not all set to one piece.”
One dance might be set to a Beastie Boys song, while another might be designed around a Philip Glass composition. And though the troupe doesn’t have a performance set as of press time, Elizabeth said she’d love to have a full season in the future.