Stephanie Paul

Stephanie Paul — Artistic Director

Stephanie is a Co-Founder, Artistic Director, and ensemble member of Be the Groove.  While attending Northwestern University, she discovered her passion for rhythm as a member of Boomshaka, NU's dance/drum ensemble and as a student of Billy Siegenfeld, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project's Artistic Director. After co-directing Boomshaka for two years, Stephanie graduated from Northwestern in 2006 with an undeniable need to continue creating, performing and educating.  Be the Groove is the realization of that desire. When not performing with Be the Groove, Stephanie is an adjunct lecturer in Northwestern University's Dance Department and on staff at Dance Center Evanston.  She has also taught for the Chicago National Association of DanceMasters and choreographed for Ohio Northern University, Northwestern University and the Evanston Dance Ensemble.  Her love of theater has led her to the nationally acclaimed Albany Park Theater Project with whom she is a Resident Artist and Co-Director.  Stephanie has also worked with Adventure Stage Chicago and Lookingglass Theatre's LAB program as a choreographer and music artist. Her performances have been described by the Chicago Tribune as "beguiling and passionate," and the Chicago Sun-Times noted her work as "brilliantly percussive."  Stephanie's approach to dance and music instruction is founded in the usage of rhythm as a means of motivating development of ensemble and individual self-confidence.  She loves rhythm and hopes that you do too.

Kevin Durnbaugh

Kevin Durnbaugh — Associate Artistic Director

Kevin has immersed himself Chicago's arts scene since graduating from Northwestern in June 2006. He has built scenery with Ravenswood Studios, designed props for Lookingglass Theatre, danced A LOT, designed scenery for Redtwist Theatre and performed in various musicals. Favorite shows include Knute Rockne: All American at Theater at the Center, and Kiss Me Kate with Light Opera Works. In addition to being a part of the Be the Groove ensemble and directing team, he is currently a company member of the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project under the direction of Billy Siegenfeld. With JRJP, he performs across the globe and teaches their unique rhythmic style to dancers everywhere.  Kevin has also recently embarked as a teaching artist with the non-profit Urban Gateways.  He is very thankful to everyone he's worked alongside, especially Tarah.

Kevin “Chops” Brown

Kevin “Chops” Brown — Director of Education

Kevin grew up in San Diego, CA and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University’s School of Communication in 2007 where he studied Radio/TV/Film. While at NU, he performed with Boomshaka for four years and co-directed the group for two. He currently plays drums throughout Chicago with various theater companies and musical projects and he works as a Teaching Artist with Urban Gateways and Old Town School of Folk Music. When not performing or teaching, you might find him helping guests enjoy their experiences at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago stage or at Thalia Hall. He is a believer in rhythm and hopes to convert you.

Jason Hanggi

Jason Hanggi — Director of Operations

Jason has been banging on stuff and being loud ever since he was a young child. In school and beyond, he focused that energy through percussion, honing his musicality performing with various symphonic and orchestral ensembles, building his chops in drumline, and developing his energetic rock and funk stylings on the kit. He directed, performered with, and composed for the percussion and dance emsemble Boomshaka at Northwestern. He performed and toured with the bands Buddha’s Belly, Tippler Contingent, and Funk in the Trunk.

He currently plays with The Mediocre Fight and The Sentinels.

Lori Buchanan

Lori Buchanan

Lori joined Be the Groove in October of 2011 after earning a degree in Theatre at Northwestern University. A few months later she joined the Collective Beat team so she could spend as much time as possible sharing her love of dance and rhythm with others. Her dance training began at age three in her hometown of St. Louis and continues to this day. She always wanted to learn how to play the drums but her parents encouraged her to try quieter instruments. Luckily, her drumming dream came true when she joined Boomshaka at NU where she learned just how much she loves all things rhythm. Last year she choreographed Buzz22Chicago’s critically acclaimed production of She Kills Monsters at the Steppenwolf Garage Theater, and she was featured in Montom Arts’s The Sky Is Not Falling in 2012. When she isn’t rehearsing or performing, you can find Lori strapped to her snowboard on the slopes, sailing around Lake Michigan, or selling outdoor gear at Marmot near Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

Tarah Ortiz Durnbaugh

Tarah Ortiz Durnbaugh

Tarah may have started dancing in elementary school, but she did not truly find the groove until much later in life. Trained in everything from ballet to acrobatics, it was not until Northwestern University’s Boomshaka that she began a deep exploration of rhythm in dance, movement, music, and life. Since 2007, she has continued this journey with Be the Groove—performing, choreographing, and teaching through the rhythmic lens. While not grooving, Tarah’s days are spent as the Performing Arts Programs Manager at Urban Gateways, a non-profit arts education organization. She also teaches and choreographs at Kaleidoscope Dance in Skokie and is the Artistic Director of the youth hip hop group Kaleidoscope Krew. Tarah is also a proud company member with the legendary Joel Hall Dancers. Though she splits her time between many projects, she loves Be the Groove so much that she basically married it! (See: Kevin Durnbaugh)

Lindsay Shepherd

Lindsay Shepherd

Lindsay is originally from Fairfax, VA. She graduated from East Carolina University with a B.F.A. in Dance Performance, concentration in Jazz. She has danced with Joel Hall Dancers II jazz company, Holland America Cruise Lines, Winifred Haun & Dancers modern company, and is currently a member of the professional tap & jazz fusion company The Cartier Collective (formerly Especially Tap Chicago). Lindsay joined Be The Groove in 2010 and is happy have the opportunity to drum with her hands instead of her feet for a change!

Laura Weiss

Laura Weiss

Laura nestled into the Be the Groove family shortly after graduating from Knox College in 2009. At Knox Laura studied Visual Communication while dancing with the Terpsichore Dance Collective and the Knox Dance Squad for four years, serving as vice president and co-captain of each, respectively. Laura is a professional massage therapist, which dovetails nicely with being part of Be the Groove: both continue to cultivate her appreciation of the body and its extraordinary abilities.

Photo credit: Kristi Burris