A visual conversation “At the Edge”

Over the past few weeks, Living Fort Wayne has been profiling the people of Fort Wayne Ballet in the lead-up to the company’s fall performance At the Edge. Just what is At the Edge all about? We caught up with four people working hard to make it all come together.


(Source/Fort Wayne Ballet Facebook page)

“A potpourri of dance.”

That is how some people have described the upcoming At the Edge performances to Fort Wayne Ballet Executive/Artistic Director Karen Gibbons-Brown.

“It’s small vignettes of different pieces, which is really quite wonderful,” said Gibbons-Brown.

There will be three main pieces in the performances at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 26 and 2:30 pm on Sunday, September 28:

  • “Mazurkas,” a classical modern dance piece, is set to music by Frédéric Chopin
  • “Se Kommatia,” a contemporary dance piece by Fort Wayne Ballet’s David Ingram, and
  • “Confetti,” a higher energy ballet piece.

“It’s exciting to be able to put on shows that have a variety of different styles and choreography and music, because it’s a little more exciting for the audience in a way, said HannahLeah Oedding, who is performing in her third fall performance for Fort Wayne Ballet.

There will be about 30 dancers performing in the pieces from the professional company, which also includes trainees and apprentices. Students from upper-level classes, called performing levels, are also being incorporated into the performances in some way.

As a repertory performance, there is no story line, but that does not mean there is not a conversation between the dancers on stage and the audience in their seats.

“That is the main focus of the relationship from the person giving information and the person receiving information, and when you have a medium like dance, there is no vocal communication most of the time,” said David Ingram, who is incorporating many contrasting elements into the free movement piece he is choreographing.

“I’m searching for bits of humanity. I think that’s my goal, as I guess all artists are,” said Ingram.

Ingram is influenced by the work of American music composer John Cage and his theories on how perceiving sound influences how humans can perceive each other.


“It’s live and live theater means something that’s emotionally alive, too. I want a real connection, and I want an honest conversation between the audience and the artists on stage” – David Ingram (Photo/Rob Borel)

“In a sense, music is subject to just vibration and our response to that – in a neurological and a sensory awareness way, said Ingram. “I feel like that is something I really try to tap into as far as movement – what moves a human.”

Fort Wayne Ballet has to meet high standards to perform “Mazurkas” and “Confetti,” which are protected by trusts.

“The people who run the trusts have to approve the organization to make sure that it has the quality and the integrity, and we have the dance capability as it was originally intended by the choreographer,” said Gibbons-Brown.

Sarah Stackhouse, representative from the Jose Limón Trust, has been rehearsing with the dancers for a number of hours in preparation for Mazurkas.

“I’m teaching them this work of my teacher Jose Limón,” said Stackhouse. “He’s of Mexican origin, but since he was seven he was in this country with his family.”

Stackhouse describes this piece done as a sweet memory to Limón’s time touring in Poland as rhapsodic and poetic by Limón’s standards, whose pieces were mostly dramatic and subjective.

The other trust piece, “Confetti,” is a ballet piece choreographed by Gerald Arpino for the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.

“[There is] a lot of jumping – it’s really high energy. It’s very happy-go-lucky,” said Oedding. “I would hope that after Confetti, [the audience] feels happy, that they enjoyed it.”

Gibbons-Brown hopes that audiences will feel that At the Edge is really different from what they might think Fort Wayne Ballet might present.

“I would love for them to feel like they have just seen big city dance, and that’s what these pieces present us an opportunity to show,” said Gibbons-Brown.

For more information and a link to tickets for the At the Edge performances, visit www.fortwayneballet.org.

Banner photo by Rob Borel

Tim Zink

Author: Tim Zink

Director-at-Large of Communications for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana. Adviser to current Living Fort Wayne leadership team. Contributor to Living Fort Wayne since April 2014.

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