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Indiana Dance Festival 2011

Three-day festival highlights Indiana’s finest contemporary dance

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


At some point in the last few weeks, while going through your normal day — running errands in a shopping center, say, or hustling to a meeting — you may have been surprised by three dozen or so of your fellow citizens suddenly breaking out into dance.

It happened to shoppers in Glenbrook the other week; it happened to attendees of a Grand Wayne Center event a short while ago; it may happen to you in some other — undisclosed, of course — area in the next week or so…

This “flash mob” you witnessed — and maybe even joined in — was to spotlight just a little of what’s on offer at the Indiana Dance Festival hosted by the Fort Wayne Dance Collective from April 1 through April 3.

The weekend kicks off with a performance Friday night April 1 by renowned Chicago-based company Hubbard Street 2 at the Arts United Center, while Saturday night features the Indiana Dance Festival Showcase at the same venue, with performances by eight different regional artists. During the day, a wide range of special workshops and classes — taught by some of the best dance talent in Indiana — will be on offer (more on those in a moment).

This is the third time the Fort Wayne Dance Collective has hosted the Indiana Dance Festival. In fact, says Liz Monnier, co-founder and artistic director of FWDC, the festival is actually FWDC’s “thing” — they began it in 2006, and repeated it again the next year. “It hasn’t happened for a few years, so we thought we’d do it again,” Monnier says. “Each time it gets a little bit bigger. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun.”

The three-day event consists of 30 workshops. “Our tag line is ‘dance for any body’,” Monnier explains. “You don’t have to be a dance student. There are programs in wellness, nutrition and other things that aren’t just for dancers.”

As Monnier says, the 30 workshops include five different “tracks” such as cultural dance (salsa, belly dance, African dance; hip-hop) and technical dance (modern tech., rhythm tap, ballet, jazz).

But there will also be workshops in Dance for the Nontraditional Dancer, such as working with people with disabilities (something the FWDC has done “in house” before).

The “No Dance Clothes Required” track includes workshops in Taiko and Jenbe Afrikan drumming (taught by Allison Ballard and Ketu Oladuwa, respectively); and Andy Welfie, former general manager for the FWDC, will run a workshop on some of the aspects of promoting an arts organization. “There’s more to dancing than dancing,” Monnier says. “There’s how to find funding, how to promote your organization… (Welfie) is really the ‘king of social media’; we though we’d take advantage of his skills.”

Finally, there’s Wellness, with workshops on nutrition, preventing and dealing with injury, and yoga.

The instructors are an eclectic mix of local and out-of-town talent, including instructors from Butler, IU, Ball State, and Purdue University. “The people who have been here before were really ready for it,” says Monnier. “When we put the workshops together, we really were looking for some of the best people to come, and they all said yes.”

Monnier adds: “We are drawing more dancers who are involved in modern dance than, say, ballet — though Karen Gibbons-Brown of the Fort Wayne Ballet will be leading a pedagogy class, and we have some other ballet dancers as well — but overall, the focus is on cultural and modern dance.”

The Indiana Dance Festival kicks off Friday night with a performance from Hubbard Street 2 at the Arts United Center. A component of Chicago’s acclaimed Hubbard Street Dance Company, Hubbard Street 2 features six dancers and concentrates on performing new works by emerging choreographers. “There’s a competition held every year where choreographers from around the country are invited to choreograph on this company,” Monnier says. “They get a wide range of people coming to Chicago to work with them, so they have a really diverse repertoire of pieces that they do.”

Saturday night, the Arts United Center plays host to the Indiana Dance Festival Showcase, with performances eight different dance companies. Monnier says they received 22 submissions from companies, colleges, and organizations, including two from Michigan and one from Florida. Representing Fort Wayne is a company from IPFW and the Mikautadze Dance Theatre. Indianapolis-based dancer company Motus will also be on the bill, as well as companies from Ball State, IU, and Undefined Movers from Michigan.

The last time the Fort Wayne Dance Collective hosted the Indiana Dance Festival was back in 2007 — that was, in fact, the last time the festival was held. Monnier would like to see the festival become an annual event that would sort of rotate among different companies throughout the state. “Our plan, our dream, our intention is that it would travel,” she says. “Whoever picks it up puts their own little spin on it, so we really hope it will happen in other places.”

The Fort Wayne Dance Collective presents the Indiana Dance Festival
April 1 – April 3

For a complete schedule of events, workshops (including a roster of instructors), performances, and ticket prices, please visit indianadancefestical.org.

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