AXIS Performance Celebrates Dance for Every Body
Mar09

AXIS Performance Celebrates Dance for Every Body

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,...

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A Chat with John Byrne, Incoming Artistic Director of the FW Dance Collective
Jul09

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

The 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...

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