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Action and reaction

Fort Wayne Ballet, Too continues to take risks

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


About midway through our conversation on the upcoming Fort Wayne Ballet, Too performance at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, I ask David Ingram why some dancers feel the calling to move beyond repertoire and choreograph their own work. The world of dance is a wide one, after all, and the breadth and variety of work out there presents plenty of challenges, even to a dancer at the top of his or her game. What makes a dancer want to take that next step, so to speak?

In response, Ingram references famed choreographer Twyla Tharp. “She said that when you’ve seen almost every facet of a certain medium, all of a sudden something clicks,” Ingram explains. “You’re ready to say ‘okay, this needs to do this now’.”

Ingram goes on to clarify. “That doesn’t mean you discredit anything that’s been done before,” he says. “It’s just taking what’s been done and furthering it.”

“Taking what’s been done and furthering it” could be the tagline of the Fort Wayne Ballet, Too, the Fort Wayne Ballet’s annual showcase for new and original work.

Ingram is the mastermind behind Fort Wayne Ballet, Too, which is now in its seventh year. Previous performances have included a staging of “Swan Lake” in the Freimann Square fountains; a moving multimedia presentation on the different levels of the city-county parking garage; and last year, a production of Petrouchka in the Arts United Plaza.

The 2012 edition marks Ingram’s first time doing the show as a full-time Fort Wayne Ballet faculty member and Men’s Division Coordinator. A former student of the Fort Wayne Ballet, Ingram was with the North Carolina Dance Theater for a number of years, performing and working with the FWB many, many times as a guest artist. As always, he brings a number of collaborators to town for the showcase. Joining FWB’s own company of dancers are Mary Ellen Beaudreau, who currently teaches in New York City; and Leigh Anne Albrechta, originally from Ohio. While Beuadreau and Albrechta are working with Fort Wayne Ballet for the first time, return collaborators include Kristopher Wojtera, Ben Needham-Wood and Jon Pritchard.

“My first rule about bringing anybody in is that they’re very cool, calm people,” Ingram says. “Sometimes artists can be a little prickly, but these are all people I’ve worked with before.”

And they need that calm and focus. Preparation for a Fort Wayne Ballet, Too showcase typically involves a lot of thinking, planning, and conceptualizing on Ingram’s part beforehand, followed by a few weeks of pretty intense staging and rehearsals. Things are a little different this year — Ingram lives in Fort Wayne now, which gives him more of an opportunity to work with the dancers — but the performers won’t have a chance to work in the performance space until shortly before show time on June 28.

This year, that space is the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Ingram says he’s envisioning using the museum’s auditorium space and the sculpture garden as part of the performance, but beyond that, he’s a little tight-lipped on the details. “I’m always hesitant to tell the audience too much, because I’d almost rather let them know what they’ve seen after the show,” he says.

But what he will say… “The performance will consist of about 15 different vignettes and abstract pieces, all pretty short. It’ll be pretty transient, I imagine. The audience will move from room to room and see a completely different piece in each room.”

“It’s all original works, all brand new,” he adds.

And one of the works is set by one of Ingram’s male students, a 12-year-old named Jack Miller. “It’s great, because there’s no self-consciousness there, maybe because he’s so young” Ingram says. “A lot of dancers… we have this tendency to look over our shoulder. But one of the things I’ve been working on with my students is having your own ideas of where a piece could go, where you could take it for yourself individually. For me, that creates a very live responsive action from the artist that the audience will truly believe. I feel the audience deserves or needs some sort of emotion from the dancer they’re watching.”

Fort Wayne Ballet presents Fort Wayne Ballet, Too

Fort Wayne Museum of Art
311 East Main Street

Thursday, June 28 at 7 PM

Performance is FREE

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.