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Art Moves

Iconic art works come to life in FWDC’s annual fundraiser

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


In four years, the Fort Wayne Dance Collective’s annual fund raiser has quickly become a highlight not just for fans of dance, but for anyone who appreciates something new, different, and interesting. Previously, the FWDC has taken audiences down the rabbit hole with Wonderland or put you in the middle of the story with Starcrossed and Lovestruck, their immersive takes on Romeo & Juliet and Midsummer Night’s Dream.

For Art Moves, this year’s fundraiser, the FWDC took a different tact, less immersive than previous years but just as ambitious in its own way. The event happens at Wunderkammer, and — as befitting an art gallery — features 10 interpretations of iconic pieces of art famous artists.

In other words, while Starcrossed, Lovestruck, etc. were big productions, with large casts and multiple moving parts, Art Moves pares it all back, putting the spotlight expressly on the choreographers, dancers, and students that the Fort Wayne Dance Collective serves. “We wanted to share our message in the simplest way possible,” explains John Byrne, Fort Wayne Dance Collective’s Artistic Director. “The idea was to have this diverse collection of choreographers create something that would be personal and simultaneously showcase the different kinds of dance we support here in the organization.”

The audience will be able to enjoy dinner and take in the performances happening in the three rooms at their own leisure. Byrne compares it to a museum or art gallery — more dynamic than that, obviously, but you get the idea. “It’s art happening in the context of a party,” Byrne says. “The focus is on the dancers.”

The choreographers and dancers are drawn from all the different branches of the FWDC. Liz Monnier, one of the founders of FWDC, contributes a piece; another was created by Ashley Benninghoff, a more recent addition to the organization’s teaching staff. “The dancers range in ages from 10 to 60+, from students at FWDC and the work we do with Fort Wayne Community Schools to dancers in our adult program,” Byrne says. “They celebrate who we are and the diversity that we support.”

The set pieces were designed by artist Diane Gaby

As we said above, the performances offer an interpretation of familiar art work by well-known artists such as Georgia O Keef, Jeff Koons, Vincent Van Gogh and others. Byrne himself choreographed two pieces. One takes Jeff Koons’ aluminum sculpture “The Ballerina” as its inspiration. There’s something kitchy (probably intentionally so) about the larger-than-life sculpture; it’s perfection invites comparisons with a porcelain doll. Byrne was struck by the irony, and wanted to do something comedic with the structure. “There’s nothing really glamorous about dancing,” he says. “In our piece, we have a young dancer, over-the-top glamorous, looks like she ready to perform. But we wanted to show that no matter how much make-up you have on, or how nice the dress is, it’s really all about the movement underneath.”

Another piece is an interpretation of the iconic work “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Hokusai.

“A lot of choreographers really pull from existing artwork for inspiration — paintings or sculpture or poetry,” Byrne says about the impetus behind Art Moves’ overall theme. “It’s a great way to get inspired, to tell a story.”

Art Moves is a fundraiser to support the FWDC’s mission to serve people of all ages and abilities, including those who have the least access to the arts. The event raises funds both for dance scholarships, as well as to create and sustain current outreach programming for the greater Fort Wayne community. “The FWDC reaches about 43,000 people each year through our on site school, and also programs at Fort Wayne Community Schools, hospitals, after-school programs, and community centers,” Byrne says.


The Fort Wayne Dance Collective presents Art Moves
Thursday, September 8, 6 PM – 9PM
Wunderkammer Company
3402 Fairfield Avenue

Tickets: $25 in davance/$30 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at fwdc.org or by calling (260) 424-6574

Event includes a silent auction, heavy appetizers and a cash bar from Club Soda, with “after hours” entertainment by DJ Alex Johnson.

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