Gabrielle Stefura is a dancer and teacher living in Columbus, Ohio. A longtime member of the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company and a founding member of the Columbus Moving Dance Company, Gabby has continued to make a blossoming career out of her passion for dance. She is also the dance faculty at Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, a testament to her desire to share her gifts and talents with a larger community so that others may find their passions in life, too. I’ve known Gabby for years and admire her bright, beautiful, generous presence and her amazing strength and fortitude. She is driven and dedicated, and her integrity shines through in everything she does, as well as a refreshing dose of joy and good humor! I’m thrilled to share some of her wisdom here with you today in the third installment of Artist Jane.
What do you do and why do you do it?
I dance and teach. I have always been someone who loves to move. Over the years, I have discovered so many things about myself through dance and it really has given me a lens to look through. I feel like dancers understand the world in a unique way. I can barely explain it. It is my passion.
Teaching on the other hand is something that I have to work really hard at. The best teachers of my life I still remember and I remember what they meant to me at that time. Their words have been imprinted on me.
I want to be like that for someone else one day.
When did you first know you were an artist?
This is a constantly emerging realization for me. I did not always know that I would be a dancer and teacher. Now that I’m in that place, I live with those decisions I once made and I throw them back and forth between my fingers. I do so much throwing that I forget about it and keep living on. I love what I do.
Who are some of your influences?
My earliest memory of an influential person would probably be my grandma, Tillie. She stayed at home with my brother and me up until we were in middle school. We would have the craziest adventures together and get involved in all sorts of little projects. I feel lucky to have had such a strong bond with her at such an early age. I have to say that another influence would be Lucille Ball. She was and still is the epitome of being a woman, such a staple for me in so many ways. I love her. Ha, I Love Lucy.
Describe some creative rituals or practices you use to get into your creative process.
Writing is definitely one ritual, but I also love to sit and read some of my favorite blogs about people, food and fashion, and that gets me thinking about where I am. Somehow I create from that.
What do you fear as an artist?
I always fear people not liking what I am doing. But as I always tell my students, if you really believe in it, so will I. I guess I need to start remembering what I tell my classes.
How do you cultivate courage?
Because of my reflective nature, I try to think really hard about how I can make something better the next time I do it, so that is always encouraging to me. Honestly, I can get really quiet and reserved when I feel intimidated, but I always have to remember that people really value how open and honest I am. So I just stay confident. Whew! It’s hard!
What advice would you give to the little girl you once were?
I would tell her to be clear about boundaries for herself. To know them, to be sure about them and to let others know what they are. Clarity is key in so many ways, so to always be sure about what you want and need. And to always remember to HAVE FUN, laugh and do things that make you happy.
What is your relationship to motherhood and children?
I love the idea of both. Children are amazing beings, and I think that every day when I go to work I am somehow being a mother to one of my students. That seems to be enough right now. The thought of actually carrying another life and then going on to raise that life is terrifying to me. I’m not sure I could do it.
How do you create solitude for yourself? How do you create community for yourself?
Solitude is something I cannot live without. I need peace. I need quiet. I need time to reflect, to think and to make sure I am always doing what is right for me. This is a struggle sometimes because my lifestyle does not always lend itself to solitude. I must make the time, and I do.
I create community by cultivating my friendships. There are people out there in the world that I love dearly and I always try to make sure they know.
If you were a goddess, what would your name be and what would you represent?
I am not sure of my name, probably something exotic sounding, maybe Egyptian. I would represent balance and harmony—two things I am always trying to find for myself.
What is true female power?
Wow. Whatever it is, I hope I have it—it sounds really good.