Experience original dance performance pieces created and performed by both professional and emerging local dancers are featured in the Fort Wayne Dance Collective’s Choreographer’s Lab Performance.

See the productions on Saturday, May 1, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 2, at 2:30 p.m. in the FWDC Studio Theatre at the Arts Campus Fort Wayne, 437 E. Berry St., Fort Wayne.

For over 35 years, the Fort Wayne Dance Collective has supported the development of local artists by hosting the Choreographer’s Lab, a workshop style intensive that gives professional, creative and technical support to choreographers. Artistic Director Mandie Kolkman and Artistic Manager Ashley Benninghoff guide participating artists through the creation process. Artists are also given rehearsal space, dancers to work with, and the opportunity to work with lighting designer Diane Gaby.

“This unique program provides opportunities for artists that would otherwise not exist,” Kolkman said in a news release. “Through the lab, FWDC encourages artists to hone in on their artistry and expression while telling personal stories through creative movement.”

The 14 choreographers scheduled to present new works over the course of the weekend include: Hayley Barnfield, Ashley Benninghoff, Allison Brandgard, Aquilla Carpenter, Yaro Carpenter, Naomi Dees, Sarah Faley, Ruby Haller, Annalise Harrison-Highley, Mandie Kolkman, Ramie Kuhns, Fiona McKinney, Torion Pickett and Sophia Shaw.

The organization said this year is especially important to the choreographers because the 2020 performance was cancelled due to COVID-19. Shortly before beginning tech rehearsal, FWDC received the unfortunate news that the performance was called off due to Gov. Holcomb’s recommendation to postpone all large gatherings. When the stay-at-home order was lifted and the Arts Campus opened in June, Punch Films and FWDC collaborated to film and capture the pieces that should have performed back in March.

“My piece in 2020 represented my divorce from earlier in life, but I wasn’t able to present it because of the restrictions that had to take place. After a year in quarantine I feel so excited to have this long-awaited, deeply digested piece come to fruition,” said Yaro Carpenter, WDC teaching artist, Touring Company member, and lab participant. “Another personally amazing aspect of the Choreographers Lab is that my 15-year-old daughter is a choreographer for the show as well. She was the youngest ever choreographer last year, and this year she cast me in her piece! I shed happy tears watching my young choreographer blossom in this loving, supportive environment.”

This year there will be three live performances with a limited, socially distanced, audience. Tickets are $12 and a DVD will be available for $15. Tickets and DVDs can be purchased by calling 260-424-6574 or visiting fwdc.org.

The FWDC Choreographer’s Lab Performances are made possible by Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, Cable Fund Access Board, Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, English Bonter Mitchell Foundation, Foellinger Foundation, Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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