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The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
The Fort Wayne Dance Collective brings acclaimed dance company to town for an exciting performance
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
One of the largest, oldest and most acclaimed modern dance companies in between Chicago and New York isn’t based in, say, Philadelphia or Cleveland. The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company calls (you guessed it) the big town/small city of Dayton, Ohio its home, and boasts a groundbreaking history that goes back to 1968.
Though these days the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company ranks as one of the most respected dance companies in the world, establishing that reputation was difficult in the early days. “The biggest challenge was simply where we are geographically,” says Debbie Blunden-Diggs, DCDC’s Artistic Director. “Most companies of the caliber that this company is are in the more cultural cities. So we had all the challenges of geography, and establishing an African-American company in 1968 has its own set of challenges.”
Blunden-Diggs’ mother, Jeraldyne Blunden, founded the DCDC (she died in 1999); Blunden-Diggs has been with the company for 40 years, and performed with the company for 25.
From the beginning, the DCDC set an ambitious artistic mission for itself — to showcase the work of African-American choreographers. “We have a significant amount of work created by dancers who currently dance here or who have danced here, but we also have work that has been created by some of the masters in the field,” Blunden-Diggs says of the DCDC’s repertory. “This company heavily invests in repertory, and the diversity of repertory, because we nurture new and emerging choreographers. I’m just as interested in that work as I am in the masters we host in our repertory.”
Fort Wayne audiences will have the opportunity to see that diversity and talent on stage when the Fort Wayne Dance Collective brings the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company to town during the weekend of March 20 (a full schedule of events is below).
For the DCDC’s performance at the Arts United Center on March 21, they’ll be showcasing a collection of four works created last year for the company’s 45th anniversary.
The first, “Exit Seven,” consists of several loosely connected segments, with each section highlighting a different emotion and style.
The second is “Urban Milonga.” Choreographed by Alvin Rangel, a former DCDC dancer, Urban Milonga is “… sort of a contemporary take on the tango,” according to Blunden-Diggs.
Audience favorite “Tossed Around” is a shorter, dynamic piece. “It really challenges the dancers timing,” says Blunden-Diggs. “It’s about how in this society things are tossed around — whether its things, emotions, people. And yes, we actually toss things around. It’s very athletic, and the dancers love doing it.”
The final piece is “Shed.” “It’s about what it says — shedding your baggage, shedding your emotions. It’s a really wonderful, moving closer for the performance.”
As Blunden-Diggs explains, because the DCDC is a repertory company, there’s not really a stylistic thread that runs through the company’s work. “For us, the ‘common thread’ is the dancers themselves,” she says. “I think we bring a very human element to our art form. A very important signature to our work is the ability of our dancers to really, really connect to an audience, to really reach across the floodlights and make you feel something.”
The Fort Wayne Dance Collective presents the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
Thursday, March 19 — Meet and Greet. The FWDC celebrates its 2015 Guest Artist Residency with an opening reception for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Meet and greet the dancers and catch a sneak peek of their exciting repertoire Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 6 p.m. at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, 311 Main St. Fort Wayne. Cost is $10 per person and includes hors d’oevres and a cash bar.
Friday, March 20 — Master Class. A master class open to the public will be taught by a member of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company Friday, March 20, 2015 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the FWDC Elliot Studio, 437 E. Berry Street. Cost is $25. Call the Fort Wayne Dance Collective 260.424.6574 or visit fwd.org to register. Space is limited.
Saturday, March 21 — Performance. 8:00 p.m. at the Arts United Center, 300 E. Main St. Tickets are $25 for adults, and $22 for students. Special discounted tickets $20 for groups of 10 or larger. For tickets call the Fort Wayne Dance Collective at 260.424.6574, or visit fwdc.org
To find out more about the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company — including videos of performances — visit dcdc.org