Meadows Dance Alum Creates “Indy Convergence” Collaborative Arts Festival
Program expands this spring to Haiti
Meadows graduate Caitlin Swihart (B.F.A. Dance ’06) was performing as a member of Dance Kaleidoscope in 2007 when she met Robert Negron and Dara Weinberg of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Acting Company. After just a short time together, the three artists realized that they shared a desire to collaborate and learn about other art forms. From this common dream was born Indy Convergence, an annual summer festival where, according to Swihart, “artists gather to learn new skills, share their expertise and create new work that has been delayed, stored away, ignored or left unfinished for whatever reason.”
Indy Convergence – “Indy” for its location and the gathering of independents, “Convergence” for the collaboration aspect of the festival - takes place in Indianapolis each summer and invites applicants from every discipline of the arts. The festival is a two-week intensive with each day lasting 12 to 14 hours. According to Negron, “On any given day, participants are asked to dance, sing, write, discuss, hang lights and teach. Everyone does everything at Indy Convergence.” Each participant studies areas of other disciplines, but also teaches, demonstrates and performs in his or her main field. Throughout the course of Indy Convergence, each artist takes part in a single umbrella project involving every participant, as well as one or more side projects that are genre-specific, and leads a workshop in their area of expertise. Workshops are free and open to anyone in the community.
Says Swihart, "We wanted to make a place where artists could focus on process and collaboration – a place to experiment and say ‘yes’ to each other’s ideas without the pressure of a performance date or paycheck. I think we’ve done a good job at creating our own unique collaborative process."
This April, Indy Convergence is launching its inaugural annual festival in Haiti. Participants will collaborate with a music school called Saka-La-Ka-Wel. As in Indy Convergence summer programs, artists from inside and outside the local community will gather to collaborate, teach and learn from one another. Indy Convergence is currently accepting donations to fund its work in Haiti. Click here for more information and to donate.
Swihart will be traveling to Haiti in April to work on a dance and sword piece with actors and musicians. She notes that her time as a student in Meadows has been central to her development as not only executive director of Indy Convergence but as a dancer and artist. “I think anyone who walks the halls of Meadows is inspired by all that is happening in just one building,” she says. “Walking to dance class I would pass actors rehearsing monologues, hear violinists furiously practicing and see great visual art on the walls. Creating Indy Convergence has let me keep all these parts of Meadows with me even though I’m far from Dallas.”
To apply for Indy Convergence or to learn more, visit www.indyconvergence.org.