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Get swept away by Mikautadze Dance

Local theater readies for first performance since start of pandemic


Emma Bachtel

Whatzup Features Writer

Published May 25, 2022

A transcendent combination of music and modern dance, Mikautadze Dance Theatre’s Dreams Away will be the perfect evening escape for music and dance aficionados alike.

A Dreamy Journey

Mikautadze Dance Theatre is a modern/contemporary  dance company in Fort Wayne and company-in residence at Purdue Fort Wayne’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. 

According to PFW’s website, Mikautadze Dance Theatre “reaches and embraces all viewers by creating a variety of styles within their repertoire. They provide a diverse artistic environment that enriches the community and inspires visions beyond our everyday realities.” 

Dreams Away will be the first performance presented by MDT since 2019. 

“This is our comeback show,” said artistic director Elizabeth Mikautadze. “COVID had prevented a lot of performances from happening. Everybody is ready to experience live performances again.”

The show will feature the talented dancers of MDT, including principal dancers Emily Craig, Zach Fensler, and Emily Keisler and apprentice dancers Danh Ngo and Maya Radike, as they transport the audience from to far-off lands of imagination. 

“Part of the reason that we came up with the concept of Dreams Away is because the company has been affected by the COVID pandemic,” said David Mikautadze, MDT’s music director.

MDT recognizes that everyone has COVID fatigue and has dealt with a lot throughout the pandemic. 

“This is kind of an escape from all that,” David said. “Everybody is ready to go out and experience live shows again.”

According to Elizabeth, each piece is meant to transport you to a different time or place, and does so with the help of some talented musicians.  

Jazzing It Up

A live jazz trio, led on guitar by David, will accompany the dancers. 

“We’ll be playing pre-show and during intermission, and also during one of the pieces that is being danced to,” David said of the group, which also includes Tiberius Huiu on drums and Nate DeRusha ob bass.

Collaborating with artists outside of dance is of utmost importance to MDT. Drawing on the iconic Ballet Russe company for inspiration, MDT seeks to be a modern rendition of this group that brought the artistic icons of its time together with dance.

“Our whole concept of this company is that we feel that dance is one of the most powerful art forms to convey story or impression, and also abstract concepts,” David said.

Though a musician and not a dancer himself, David recognizes the storytelling power that dance adds to music. 

“Music can also be used, but a lot of times abstractism in music can sound pretty ugly, and then you kind of lose your audience,” he said. “Dance allows people to experience music that otherwise they wouldn’t have maybe enjoyed, because now they can watch people move, and maybe that music can take on a deeper meaning.”

The music used in this show will cover a broad range of styles and time periods, including music from the Renaissance, impressionistic music, modern and jazz music, and some contemporary music. 

“We kind of cover a lot of bases musically,” David said. “Hopefully it is appealing to people who are into various music styles and genres.”

poetic justice

In addition to music, Dreams Away will also feature the poetic prowess of George Kalamaras, former Poet Laureate of Indiana.

“I started working with George on jazz poetry first,” Elizabeth said, “then we decided some live music within that suite of pieces would be a good touch.”

George’s poetry will be featured while the MDT dancers perform to the music of the jazz trio.  

“George has been an awesome person to work with, and we definitely wanted to showcase him because he’s like a local gem,” David said. “People who don’t know who he is should know who he is. We’re very proud to have him on stage with us.”

“One thing we try to do when we bring different art forms together, is we try to make all of those art forms equal in importance and meaning,” Elizabeth said. “We try to be very intentional with the texture of the music, the texture of the poetry if we use it, and the texture of any of the lighting design, props, or sculptures that might be part of the show.”

The lighting design for this show will be done by Corey Lee, with costume design by Jeannne Pendleton. 

In addition to the new works that will be premiered in Dreams Away, MDT will be bringing back two of their classic repertoire pieces: “Passage” and “Crystal Tears.”

“The special thing about ‘Crystal Tears’  is it’s one of the pieces that premiered in our very first show in residency, and we have not performed that on the main stage since,” Elizabeth said. “It’s kind of exciting to bring back an older piece of repertoire and do it again with a new cast.”

Dream Come True

Thinking back to the first performance of “Crystal Tears,” David and Elizabeth reflect on the origins of MDT. 

“When we moved out to Fort Wayne, we knew we wanted to share our backgrounds, so we decided to start the company.”

Elizabeth brings a wide breadth and great depth of experience to Fort Wayne, having studied dance at such prestigious schools as the Boston Conservatory, the Martha Graham School, the Paul Taylor School, and the Alvin Ailey School, as well as having performed with various professional companies in New York City. 

David brings his musical prowess, having studied at Berkley College of Music, one of the most prestigious training institutes for music in the country. 

“One of our first conversations back in college was, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to have a modern dance company together?’ And here we are, doing it. It’s really a dream come true.”

Now, Elizabeth and David have seen this dream become a reality. What better way to celebrate pursuing dreams than to come see a show entitled Dreams Away?

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Dreams Away

Williams Theatre, Purdue Fort Wayne

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