A visual conversation “At the Edge”
Sep23

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. “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. “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,...

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Fort Wayne Ballet Spotlight – Meet HannahLeah!
Sep08

Fort Wayne Ballet Spotlight – Meet HannahLeah!

As we get closer to this month’s At the Edge performances, we spotlight another fantastic Fort Wayne Ballet dancer. HannahLeah Oeding is a company dancer and teacher at the Ballet. As a dancer, she rehearses and performs in all of the Ballet’s in-season productions and participates in various outreach programs in the Fort Wayne area. As a teacher, she teaches young students at the downtown studios and the satellite programs at both the Jorgensen YMCA and Parkview YMCA. HannahLeah is in her fourth season with the company. Living Fort Wayne caught up with HannahLeah to get a feel for what moves her. Selected responses are below. Can you tell us how you became involved with ballet?I started taking classes when I was very young, and fell completely in love with ballet after seeing The Nutcracker when I was five. When I was eleven, my mom decided it was time for me to start taking classes at a professional school whose main focus was ballet. I took classes at Inland Pacific Ballet and performed with the company on many occasions until I graduated high school. What is the most challenging aspect of performing ballet professionally?One of the most challenging parts of being a professional ballet dancer is maintaining and improving a high level of technique. Everyone has their own body’s strengths  and weaknesses. Once you are a professional, it becomes the dancer’s responsibility to take care of applying corrections and to seek out new information. The level of physicality that is required to dance a full evening of ballet is so high; if you aren’t improving, you are losing your edge. But even more importantly, dancers have to learn how to keep a positive mindset. We are so emotionally attached to what we do. Most of us fell in love with movement and the way it makes us feel at a young age, and that stays with us forever. However, at the end of a long rehearsal week or when casting gets posted and you don’t get what you want or expect, you have to learn to shut that out and just keep that young girl or boy who was spellbound by the magic in the forefront of your mind. We are all so blessed to be able to do what we  love everyday, and to share that joy with our audience. What artistic performance have you been the most proud of in your career as a dancer?Probably the opportunity to dance the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. For me, it was such a personal achievement. I had grown up dancing the ballet every year and looked up to the plums...

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