Choreographer designs dance to public-voted music

May 17, 2019 GMT

Fort Wayne Ballet recently invited the public to vote for the music choreographer David Ingram would use to create a piece for this year’s Fort Wayne Ballet, Too.

Ingram thought it was an interesting concept, even if it did put him in an unusual position.

“I was like, ‘We’re all going to read this novel, and then I’m in charge of ruining the novel by making the movie,’” he says with humor.

He submitted several music selections that got narrowed down to the ones the public voted on. “Aheym” by Kronos Quartet got 38% of the vote. It will be among several pieces performed in Ballet, Too next week.


Ingram admits that “Aheym” would not have been his first choice but says he’s excited for the challenge.

The short amount of time he has to work on the piece is also a bit of a challenge, but he says the specifics he is setting forth are general and he wants the individual dancers to “sing the way they sing in a form of movement.”

Over his years in dance, Ingram has learned that it works better if he forms a piece to performers’ strengths instead of showing up at the studio with a whole dance mapped out and expecting them to conform to his design. He says dance loses its sense of humanity if all dancers move exactly the same.

To prepare for choreographing a piece, Ingram says he listens to the music repeatedly to memorize the phrasing and tonality.

“But then I need to forget about it and focus on the narrative and the subject so the music is more supportive to the dancer rather than dominating them,” he says.

Ingram, formerly a principal dancer and artistic associate with the Ballet, has been in town this week working with the company on its “Progressions” performances, which take place at 7 p.m. today and Saturday. In “Progressions,” the audience moves from one studio to another in the Auer Center for Arts and Culture, 300 E. Main St., taking in different dances along the way. Tickets, at $20, are available at www.tickets.artstix.org.

Next week, Ingram will be joined by four dancers from East Carolina University where he is an assistant professor in the School of Theatre and Dance. They will help him prepare the local company for the free Ballet, Too performance at 7:30 p.m. May 24 at Freimann Square.

The annual Ballet, Too performances take place outside a stage or studio setting in part to show that dance is accessible instead of being an elitist art form.

“This program’s really important for us to try to interact and make pieces that maybe you’d see in a classical ballet repertoire, but also make works that could associate to present-day culture,” Ingram says.


Not only did the public choose a piece of music for this year’s performance but money for it was raised through a crowdfunding campaign in the fall cycle of AmplifyArt.

The “Aheym” piece is 10 to 12 minutes, and Ingram hopes to include several other selections in the performance.

He says he hopes the audience responds to his choreography, even if they want to throw tomatoes at him for “ruining the novel.”

“Oh, I would love it,” Ingram says. “Because they would have an opinion and I would love it. That would be best possible case scenario.”