A Chat with John Byrne, Incoming Artistic Director of the FW Dance Collective

JohnHeadshot14.1The Fort Wayne Dance Collective (FWDC) recently announced that John Byrne will soon take the helm as the organization’s new Artistic Director. The dancer, choreographer and Julliard alum has worked with several renowned choreographers, including Twyla Tharp and Paul Taylor. Byrne’s own choreography has appeared in campaigns for Target®, the Gap®, Pepsi®, Clinique®, H&M® and the CBS show “2 Broke Girls.” His creative direction has also shaped music videos for Florence + The Machine, Mariah Carey, Elton John and Lady Gaga.

Byrne will begin transitioning into the role of Artistic Director starting September 1, 2015. As he prepares to relocate to Fort Wayne from New York City, I talked to Byrne about his new role, his big move, and his vision for FWDC.


Q – Why did you decide to make a move to the Fort Wayne Dance Collective?

J.B. – As a young boy, I would immerse myself each summer at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. It was a dynamic refuge for artists to experiment, perform, teach, study and heal – without judgment. So many iconic works of art were born at the American Dance Festival. The Fort Wayne Dance Collective is the closest opportunity I have come across that aligns with the spirit of the American Dance Festival, and yet FWDC operates year-round! This opportunity is literally a dream come true.


Q – What do you love most about FWDC?

J.B. – I am drawn to the philosophy of FWDC – that we are all born a powerful dancer, without reserve, and each of us has an amazing story inside just waiting to come out.


Q – What are you most looking forward to as the Artistic Director at FWDC?

J.B. – I look forward to working with Fort Wayne’s multi-generational community of artists. I am excited to both support and cultivate the amazing programs that have been established by the incredible founders of the Dance Collective. Of course, I am also thrilled and quite eager to create new experiences with FWDC. It will be an honor to share my own vision and vocabulary as well as to offer the community unique experiences with the leading artists who will visit with us throughout the seasons.


Q – What are your goals for the future of FWDC?

J.B. – FWDC provides a vast array of opportunities for people of all ages and stages to explore dance. Many of us become dancers because we simply love the way it feels, but others do it because we feel the need to express a narrative story, an idea, or just something we see as beautiful. I have a keen vision for creating both original experimental dance theater projects with the Dance Collective, as well as projects adapted from more classical and “operatic” narratives like “West Side Story,” “La Boheme,” and maybe even an Agatha Christie story. I imagine FWDC becoming the world’s greatest community theater, but through the lens of dance!

I look forward to partnering with community businesses whether it be a car wash, a movie theater or even the Children’s Zoo, as we have the potential to create some very fun and engaging dance “happenings.” What would the world be without music and dance? I welcome local business to collaborate and support new projects, so please come and introduce yourself this fall!

It goes without saying that one of my passions is to offer opportunities through the work we will do at FWDC, to bring performances outside of Indiana and create a broader presence for FWDC both domestically and internationally. More will be revealed. The sky is the limit, but it must happen one “leg brush” at a time!



10 Fun Facts About John Byrne

  1. Favorite Sport: Contact Improv.
  2. Favorite Vacation: Anywhere I can dance and/or snorkel.
  3. I’m a history lover, especially when it comes to pirates!
  4. I’m fascinated by Tennessee Williams.
  5. Favorite Theatrical Moment: When Tony and Maria sing “Tonight” in West Side Story.
  6. Inspiring Choreography Examples: Twyla Tharp (in the Upper Room) and Elliot Feld (in Ion).
  7. I’m fascinated by airports, palm trees and tile floors.
  8. I love the films “Babel,” “Wild Tales” and anything from Pedro Almodovar.
  9. I was born and raised in a family-operated bed and breakfast.
  10. Favorite Music: Bach, Indie, Disco, House, Gospel and Opera.


For more information about John Byrne, visit fwdc.org.


Author: Becca

Copywriter by day. Runner by evening. Mad culinary scientist by night. If it's sunny, she'd rather be paddling around Olin Lake on a SUP. A Fort Wayne native (save for stints in Alabama, Boston and New York) whose ancestors came to Northeast Indiana via oxcart caravan in 1843.

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