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AXIS Dance

FWDC brings innovative, award-winning dance company to Fort Wayne

By Eddie Torres

Fort Wayne Reader

2016-03-04


When Axis Dance Company first started taking shape in 1987, no one quite knew what to make of the troupe. Composed of performers with and without disabilities, the Oakland California-based company specialized in what they call "physically integrated dance," and were interested in developing a new vocabulary for dance by incorporating disabled people — wheelchair users, crutch users, and people with amputations using prosthetic limbs.

Axis’ co-founder Judith Smith told the LA Times in 2011: "We realized early on that rather than being a limitation, disability can radically expand what's possible with choreography.”

“People that move differently, whether it's in motorized wheelchairs, on crutches, or with prosthetics, create all these partnering and ensemble possibilities that wouldn't exist with dancers who can all move the same way."

Axis’ was one of the pioneering dance companies in the field of physically integrated dance, and it’s a good measuring stick of how far that field has come in the last 30 years that you rarely hear anyone in the dance community use the phrase “field of physically integrated dance” any more. From its start, one of Axis’ goals was to be judged by and subjected to the same standards as any dance troupe of any style, but one of the misperceptions that dogged the company was confusion about whether Axis was doing “art” or “therapy.”

They say the perception still persists to some extent, though much less so now than when the company first began. Over the course of the Axis’ career, they’ve garnered a host of some of the dance world’s highest nominations and honors (including several Isadora Duncan awards), commissioned work from leading choreographers, and appeared twice on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Fort Wayne audiences will have the opportunity to see Axis’ dynamic stage performance when the Fort Wayne Dance Collective brings them to town for a weekend residency beginning Thursday, March 10. The residency includes a performance at the Arts United Center on Saturday, March 12.

“Axis is one of the country’s most relevant modern dance ensembles right now,” says John Byrne, FWDC’s artistic director. “They perform work that is meaningful on a variety of levels. They’re a premier dance company that celebrates all different abilities and ranges of movement.”

Byrne continues: “One of the interesting things about AXIS is not only have they embraced dancers with disabilities, but they’ve found ways of using their different circumstances along with adaptive devices like wheel chirs and crutches to create a new vocabulary of movement. They use their different situations to discover a whole new realm of possibilities.”

On their current tour, Axis is performing a new piece called “to go again.” Commissioned by Axis and choreographed by Joe Goode, “to go again” is a narrative work the tells the based on true stories of war veterans and their survival, and coming to terms with life after experiencing a war zone. “Along with the incredibly impressive physical element, there’s a lot of great storytelling that happens in an Axis performance,” Byrne says.

Axis will also perform two older pieces of original work from the repertoire, “Divide” and “Dix minutes plus tard.” Following the performance, the audience will be invited to join the ensemble for a Q&A session.

Axis does a lot of work with disabled people, and during their Fort Wayne visit they’ll be conducting workshops at the VA hospital and the Turnstone center.

RESIDENCY SCHEDULE:

Open Rehearsal and Creative Movement Workshop
Thursday March 10, from 2:00pm to 3:00pm.
VA Hospital, 2121 Lake Ave.
A creative workshop for veterans, movers of all abilities and their families focusing on resiliency, drawing upon themes from the dance work, “to go again.” Call the Fort Wayne Dance Collective 260.424.6574 for more information. This event is FREE and open to public.

Creative Movement Workshop
Thursday March 10 from 7:30pm to 8:30pm.
Turnstone Center, 3320 North Clinton
A creative workshop for veterans, movers of all abilities and their families focusing on resiliency, drawing upon themes from the dance work, “to go again.” Call the Fort Wayne Dance Collective 260.424.6574 for more information. This event is FREE and open to public.

Master Class
Friday, March 11 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm
FWDC Elliott Studio, 437 E. Berry Street
A master class open to the public will be taught by members of AXIS Dance Company. This master class will use creative movement, improvisation and modern dance techniques to explore solo, duet and ensemble material. This opportunity will be geared towards adults and youth over 12 with and without disabilities at all levels of dance, athletic or movement experience.
Cost is $25. Call the Fort Wayne Dance Collective at 260.424.6574 or visit fwdc.org to register. Space is limited.

Arts United Center Performance
Saturday, March 12 at 8:00 p.m
Arts United Center, 303 E. Main Street
Tickets: $25 for adults, and $22 for students.
Special discounted tickets for groups of 10 or larger are $20.
For tickets call the Fort Wayne Dance Collective at 260.424.6574 or visit fwdc.org

For more information on Axis, or to watch videos of performances, visit axisdance.org

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