Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Fort Wayne a magnet for dance enthusiasts

Rod King

Whatzup Features Writer

Published April 4, 2019

Heads Up! This article is 3 years old.

Hundreds of dancers and dance enthusiasts from across Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan will converge on the Summit City April 12-14 to take part in the Indiana Dance Festival hosted by Fort Wayne Dance Collective.

They’re coming to participate in and learn about everything from hip hop, jazz, modern, tap, and ballet, to contemporary, Butoh, African, and classical Indian dances through performances, master classes, and panel discussions.

Mandie Kolkman, artistic director of FWDC, says this is only the fourth Indiana Dance Festival held in the state and all have taken place in Fort Wayne. The first two were here in 2006 and 2007 and the last one was in 2011.

Something for all ages

“Fort Wayne seems to be the choice location for the festival and we’re pleased to be its organizer, sponsor, and host,” Kolkman said. “The fact that we have several dance companies and a thriving arts culture gives us a good nucleus and the strong support needed to put together an event of this proportion. In addition, we have good relations with the other arts organizations around the state and are excited to again host this event.

“Our mission for the Indiana Dance Festival is to provide a diverse population with unique opportunities to experience the cultivation, presentation, discipline, and conservation of dance, movement arts, and health. The festival has something for all ages and community members with varied interests.”

Two panel discussions will take place throughout the weekend. The first at 4 p.m. Saturday will be on collaborating with people in other art forms. The second at 3 p.m. Sunday will focus on job and performance opportunities. Both will be held at Fort Wayne Dance Collective at 437 E. Berry St. Fee to attend each panel discussion is $5.

Highlight of the festival will be the shows Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. The two performances, which will be totally different and include different dance companies, will be held in the Arts United Center on Main Street.

City Native Returns to Headline

Fort Wayne native Brett Conway will be returning to his hometown to headline the Saturday night production. He’s an alumna of the Fort Wayne Ballet School, Virginia School of the Arts, Joffrey Ballet School, and the Boston Ballet School. He’s now on the faculty of Alonzo King LINES Ballet in San Francisco.

He will also be conducting a master class on contemporary repertory dancing at 2:15 p.m.Saturday in the east rehearsal hall of the Arts United Center.

“It’s hard to believe it has been about 20 years since I performed on the Arts United Center stage,” Conway said. “It’s going to feel quite nostalgic and special to have my family and friends there again in the audience all these year later. I’m so glad that there is a festival where students and professionals can come together to inspire, educate, and share our passion for dance in Indiana. I feel so grateful that I can contribute to the festival this year and give back to the community that supported me when I was young and dreamt of pursuing a career in dance.”

Companies involved in the Friday evening production include Crossroads Dance of Indianapolis, Contingency Touring Company from Houston, Water Street Dance Company of Milwaukee, SK Dancers from Ball State University, Fort Wayne’s Project Ballet, Dance Collective’s Taiko (Japanese drums) and Touring Company, Ratio Dance of Auburn, and pre-professional dance students from Purdue and Indiana universities.

Sharing the stage Saturday with Brett Conway will be Renay Aumiller Dances from Durham, N.C., Resonate Dance Company from California, Elizabeth Shea Dancers from Indiana University, MCS Dance Company of Muncie, Mikautadze Dance Theatre of Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Ballet, Dance Collective’s touring company, Dance Collective’s Pineapple Dance Project made up of Fort Wayne teen and youth dancers, and a group of pre-professional students from Butler and Indiana Universities.

Multi-Site Master Classes

An array of renowned teaching artists from around the state and the country has been assembled to conduct master classes. Cost to participate in the two-day package of six sessions is $90. A half day is $50. Concurrent sessions will be held Saturday and Sunday in the Elliot and Tyler Studios at Dance Collective headquarters at 437 E. Berry St. and in the east rehearsal hall of the Arts United Center.

Classes, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, include a wide variety of subjects, from ballet, tap, hip hop, contemporary, and improvisation in choreography to musical theater, African dance, and dance composition.

Class schedule can be found at

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