The collective was incorporated in January 1979 after five women attended a modern dance workshop sponsored by the Fort Wayne Women’s Bureau and decided to develop a modern dance group in the city. Its first home was on Broadway (in Fort Wayne, not New York City), where it opened its studios to all sorts of performers. That inclusiveness became the group’s touchstone and continues today.
The collective relocated to the Hall Center on East Berry Street in 1991, where it remains today. Throughout its life, the collective has featured traveling guest artists who have performed at FWDC events, and the collective sends out its own dancers to local schools, senior centers and social agencies that work with people with disabilities. The outreach program remains one of the group’s main focuses, along with its touring groups (including Fort Wayne Taiko) and its performances.
“Most of our outreach work is with people with disabilities,” Monnier said. “My goal is for each person to be engaged. Trying to find out about each one of them has been fun.”
Monnier remains the group’s artistic director, though she’s now deeply involved in learning Feldenkrais Method, a way of relearning how to move the human body through specific movement patterns. She has been studying in Seattle, Wash., taking time away from the collective while she earns certification in the Feldenkrais Method.
“It has changed my body,” she said. “I move without any pain, pretty much, and with a fluidity and without effort. I felt like my future self was telling me, you have to do this.”
She continues to teach classes, saying that “teaching feeds me,” and is instrumental in developing the collective’s annual early summer “story dance” performances. The June 2012 performance, “The Boy Who Wanted To Count,” was based on the seed of an idea that Monnier and the group’s leaders fleshed out during an outreach meeting at the Botanical Conservatory.
This month, the FWDC will be performing a Halloween show, “Fright Nightmares” in connection with the Downtown Improvement District’s Fright Night events on Oct. 20. This year’s performances will be at the former Scottish Rite center on West Berry Street.
And the collective continues to host its monthly Dances of Universal Peace, where anyone can come and express their feelings towards peace through movement.
“Our performances are really collaborations with the community,” Monnier said. “It’s really open to everybody. It’s not just modern dance. It’s contemporary. It’s based on creative movements.”
And the group remains committed to growth, with a new logo and new motto being unveiled this year. “Where creative energy moves” will become the collective’s slogan as it moves into its 34th year in 2013.