Biography

Gabriella Wiltz is a dance artist, writer, and filmmaker from the south side of Chicago. She grew up studying dance around the city at different schools and programs until she graduated from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School (WYHS) in 2013 and headed to The Ohio State University to pursue a degree in Dance.

During her time at Ohio State, Gabriella deepened her contemporary dance training while working closely with choreographers such as Susan Rethorst, Stephan Koplowitz, Joshua Manculich, Teena Custer and Daniel Roberts among others. Dance film became a growing interest as well as other production elements of performance in addition to choreography and performance. Her research projects such as Project Playtime (2015) and OSU Dance to Brazil (2016) set the stage for the kind of interdisciplinary storytelling Gabriella had a growing interest in. Her senior thesis project Revitalize, Rehumanize (2017) took an intermedia approach to sharing the Black experience with an audience-participation driven work. In May of 2017, Gabriella graduated with a BFA in Dance with a Focus in Dance Film and Technology with Distinction.

After receiving her degree, Gabriella moved back to Chicago to begin her career as a visual storyteller and arts advocate. In addition to her roles in dance and arts education, her professional career continued to evolve in dance and film with the co-creation of the film WHITE NOISE. (2018) with collaborator Talia Koylass on dancers at WYHS. She also performed in the Koylass-led dance film The Good Christian (2018) which premiered at Going Dutch Festival as the first project under the dance film production company Motion/Pictures Dance Project (MPDP). In August 2018, Gabriella and Talia set out to co-produce the first installment of a dance film series about the effects of the U.S. prison system on communities of color entitled Bleeding Backwards. In December 2018, the duo premiered MPDP’s second film, Better Off Dead (2018) at Links Hall’s Co-Mission Festival.

Gabriella has also been choreographing and performing in addition to dance film. She’s created original work for the dance department at WYHS (2018) and performed in Jasmin Taylor’s evening length work Shift Your Paradigm (2018). In January 2019, Gabriella and fellow Buckeyes Kylee C. Smith and Frank Johnson launched Ashé: An Artists Collective—a digital dance collective dedicated to fostering authentic relationships and creative collaboration.

Since 2019, Gabriella has immersed herself in writing/directing in the MFA program at UCLA, developing a passion for telling character driven stories, especially those about three-dimensional Black women and their personal, often psychological, experiences navigating life.

Her current repertoire of work includes a short film entitled Shadow Work about a young woman coming to terms with her rage after losing her car in a parking garage, and a personal documentary entitled Another Pizza My Heart about learning how to cook while living alone at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to developing her narrative filmmaking skills, she has continued developing her dance muscles with the creation of her dance film The Perfect Martini and choreographing the musical short film Generally Educated Dora.

As she heads into production on her thesis short, a film about journeying home based in Chicago, Gabriella continues to tell character-driven stories that accentuate personal touchstones prioritizes portraying flawed, complex Black women on screen.

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