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Summer Performances

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-07-06


There is something very natural about performance. Everyone can and does do it to varying degrees of ability and grace. This Summer, Downtown Fort Wayne is coming alive with performances of all kinds. From contemporary dance to traditional African drumming, from aerial acrobats to cloggers, there is going to be a little bit of everything going on over the next few months.

The first event happening downtown this summer was a piece of performance art. Usually spoken of as the weird cousin of the "art family," performance pieces sometimes get a bad rap so being too "out there" to experience fully. This was certainly not the case for the third year of Fort Wayne Ballet Too, the contemporary dance and performance program which takes place each summer, choreographed and conceived of by David Ingram, a company artist with the North Carolina Dance Theatre in Charlotte, NC. Fort Wayne Ballet Too took place on June 24th and utilized some of downtowns best assets to present beauty and entertainment.

The total piece was a combination of live performance outdoors (making use of Cinema Center and Haller and Colvin's parking lots, and accompanied by the band "Sky Thing"), video pieces indoors (making use of Cinema Center's facilities), and combined live performance/video works. The pieces combined the vocabulary and experiences of contemporary and classical dance, with skate culture, digitally manipulated video, and public space and architecture. Highlights of the event include "Chalk 1 and 2," a video performance mimicking the story of Sisyphus, with a dancer desperately attempting to climb a quarter pipe, and XX/YY (divided by) X, where the video artist Valerie Sullivan Fuchs multiplies the images of the dancers in quadrants creating a beautiful kaleidoscopic effect to their seemingly sensual performance. Also included in this body of work were the impressive video clips of the dancers interacting with the Parkview Field ballpark, with wonderful silhouettes and extensions along the railings, and the use of improvised dance and music in the outdoor piece with the local experimental musical group Sky Thing made up of John McCormick and Megan Mirro.

Next is the Downtown Improvement Districts jam-packed month of July. The DID is launching two new events this year, one the Lunch On the Square series, and the second is "Buskerfest", a celebration of the street performer.

Lunch On The Square will be a series of 5 public musical performances, each Wednesday in July, at One Summit Square. The DID has also worked with a number of local restaurants to provide boxed lunch options, and will have a few food vendors on the One Summit Square courtyard the day of each performance.

"We are trying to focus attention on the beautiful urban space that One Summit Square is, and hopefully reintroducing downtown workers and visitors to it, says Courtney Tritch, DID Marketing and Events Coordinator. The line up of performers includes Good Night Gracie, performing July 1st, Keith Flye on July 8th, the Three Rivers Institute for African Arts and Culture (TRIAAC)'s Djenbe Ensemble on July 15th, the Eric Clancy Trio on July 22nd, and Ty Causey will be closing the series on July 29th.

Then, two days later, the DID will dazzling everyone with some slightly off the wall performances with Buskerfest on July 31st, from 5-9pm. This event is determined to be a celebration of all forms of performance even those not so traditional types like stilt walking in a giraffe suit, aerial acrobatics, and a few other surprises. Tritch explains, "Buskerfest is a new event this year, and we are all really excited for it. It brings together a great deal of our local talent, but also features performers from Chicago and Indianapolis." Buskerfest will also feature the Fort Wayne Ballet doing more contemporary dance, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art with various projects for the whole family, and will a variety of true buskers wandering through the event, performing feats like juggling and fortune telling for those who can spare a but of money. This event was designed to not only attract more people downtown, but also to advocate the use of downtown space by more performers as you see in some larger cities, entertaining the public and creating just the right kind of spectacle to keep people's interest.

Wrapping up the summer, Freimann-Foellinger Botanical Conservatory will be hosting their annual "Botanical Roots" series, beginning in July 31st and ending September 11th. This is the fourth year for this concert series, which features local bands opening for main acts. This year's performers include Buckwheat Zydeco, the Dynamites Featuring Charles Walker, and Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials. Doors open 7:30, Opening act starts at 8:30, and admission is $6 for ages 13 and up. Visit www.botanicalconservatory.org for more information.

All of these performance based events are a further testament to amount of raw talent and creativity which is housed in Fort Wayne. Thankfully, organizations like the Downtown Improvement District, Fort Wayne Ballet, and Freimann-Foellinger Botanical Conservatory have organized these events, and worked with the artists and talents involved to make them as publicly accessible as possible. There is no excuse to not join in on the fun with all of these free and low cost events, downtown will be the place to be each week this summer!

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