As demonstrated by wedding receptions and Seinfeld reruns, dancing is a pretty democratic form of expression. When it’s time to hit the dance floor, it’s not about perfection. It’s about bringing your signature moves and shaking what you’ve got. But that freedom of expression doesn’t always carry over into the world of professional performance, where casting often comes down to physical characteristics rather than creative passion.
Thankfully, modern dance organizations are breaking those barriers. In our community, the Fort Wayne Dance Collective (FWDC) offers dance and creative movement programs for people of all ages and abilities – from preschoolers to Parkinson’s patients. This weekend, FWDC is hosting a performance by Oakland-based AXIS Dance Company, a contemporary dance company that’s spent the last few decades pioneering a form of expression they call “physically integrated dance.”
Instead of closing the door on creative expression, AXIS is about access. The company includes dancers with and without disabilities. Performances creatively integrate dancers’ varied abilities, turning wheelchairs into choreography elements and showcasing each individual’s unique physical form. By celebrating the different ways people can dance, AXIS embraces a technique that breaks from tradition. The company’s innovation has earned national and international awards and acclaim.
“I’m excited to see how the dancers from AXIS use their unique physicality to do innovative movement and choreography,” says John Byrne, Creative Director at FWDC. “They’ve taken something that had long been a stigma in dance, disability, and proved that it can be an advantage in creativity. The physicality and extreme athleticism of the dancers is quite impressive!”
AXIS will perform as Fort Wayne Dance Collective’s 2016 guest artist on Saturday, March 12th at 8:00pm at the Arts United Center. The performance will include three original dance pieces, including a new dance theater work by choreographer Joe Goode called “To Go Again”. As Goode explains, “To Go Again” honors the resilience of our country’s veterans in the face of difficult and catastrophic circumstances.
Prior to Saturday’s performance, Arts United will host a Creative Cocktails reception beginning at 5:30 pm at Club Soda. Following the show, AXIS dancers will interact with audience members in a relaxed Q&A session. FWDC’s weeklong guest artist activities also include a Creative Workshop with AXIS on Thursday, March 10th at Turnstone Center and a Master Class on Friday, March 11th at the Fort Wayne Dance Collective.
“I hope that the community will feel empowered after the performance and workshop,” says Byrne. “I hope that they see that there is no excuse to not pursue their desires, despite what they may perceive as a roadblock! We want to send the message that Fort Wayne supports artists of all abilities.”
Every year, the Fort Wayne Dance Collective staff searches the world to host guest artist group that’s shaking up the dance world. Catching a world-renowned dance company in your hometown is always money well spent, and AXIS is guaranteed to reveal dance like you’ve never seen it before. But like every FWDC guest artist – once they leave town, you won’t see them here again.
AXIS Arts United Center Performance: Saturday, March 12th, 8:00 pm
Tickets are $25 for adults and $22 for students. Special discounted tickets are available for groups of 10 or larger. For tickets call the Fort Wayne Dance Collective at (260) 424-6574 or visit FWDC.org.
AXIS Creative Workshop: Thursday, March 10th, 7:30-8:30 pm at Turnstone Center (3320 North Clinton St., Fort Wayne, IN 46805).
A creative workshop for veterans, and movers of all abilities and their families. The workshop will focus on resiliency and draw upon themes from the dance work, “To Go Again.” For more information, call FWDC at (260) 424-6574.
AXIS Master Class: Friday, March 11th, 6:00-7:30 pm in the FWDC Elliot Studio (437 East Berry St., Fort Wayne, 46802)
Members of AXIS Dance Company will teach a master class open to the public. Cost is $25 and space is limited. To register, call FWDC at (260) 424-6574.