By Tina Fowler, Summer 2016 AXIS Intern
I have missed the West coast, Oakland, and most of all, AXIS Dance Company. At the beginning of the summer, I packed my bags and headed across the country for my dream internship. From May to August, I had the pleasure of working with AXIS and being in the heart of conversations about the future of physically-integrated dance. After the internship, I came back to the East Coast wondering how I would stay as involved, aware and passionate.
Thankfully, AXIS’s National Convening on the Future of Physically Integrated Dance spurred regional conferences around the country to create a network of leaders and continue to move the field forward. I attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional Convening on November 12th at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Oh how wonderful it was to be back in a room with such incredible individuals that share this mission to make dance accessible to every body!
The day started with introductions and I was amazed to see the diversity and representation in the room. Most of the attendants were from New Jersey and New York but there were also individuals from Pennsylvania and Vermont, and then me, from Washington, DC. It was great to see Judy, Artistic Director and Founder of AXIS, and hear her lay out the recent and future advocacy work that she is helping to facilitate. Next, we heard from Anne Coates, a professional non-profit consultant from Dance NYC, who reported on research and initiatives from the organization. We spent the remaining hours in groups planning action steps in the following categories: entry points for youth and community dancers, generating a regional network, continuing development in higher education and public settings, expanding opportunities for performers and choreographers, and removing barriers to enter arts administration roles. These conversations were the beginning of connecting individuals and making a plan to improve these aspects of the physically-integrated dance field. The work continues from here and I am so excited to see where this movement will go.
As I am approaching graduation from undergrad in January, my involvement with AXIS has been monumental in my personal and professional journey. People who know me well know that I’m guided by a personal mission for a vibrant, harmonious world: a place devoid of prejudice and discrimination, which occurs by embracing diversity and practicing inclusion of all social identities. I believe that dance can be used as a tool to bring about this positive social change. Physically-integrated dance is a taste of my vision -- people with and without disabilities exploring the beauty of diversity and inclusion through dance. Attending this convening has allowed me to see a further expansion of the opportunities to stay involved. I know that wherever I end up, I can utilize the tools AXIS has given me and work with others to make dance access a priority.
Thank you, Jeff Friedman and Rutgers Dance Department for hosting, Anne Coates for speaking on behalf of DANCE/NYC, Judy Smith for representing AXIS, and all my new friends for attending the convening and doing fantastic work. And a special thanks to AXIS Dance Company for introducing me to the field of physically-integrated dance!