IndyFringe: In the Company of Women

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at

By John Lyle Belden

Though (as I’ve often noted) I’m not expert on dance, I have long appreciated the works of Crossroads Dance Indy. And once again, they did not disappoint with their latest Fringe festival offering, “In the Company of Women.”

Choreographed by company members Brittany Gaither, Nicole Dean, Sammi Kindler, Daniella Conti, Paisley Gibson, and Katie Porras, CDI pays tribute to womanhood, as well as specific women.

The beginning piece weaves in words suggested by audience members describing the women in their lives. The number that follows highlights the various professions and roles that women take in life and the workplace. At the center is the Teacher, who helps make the others possible. And in a world that allows women to do more than teach, we see the Executive, the Healer, the Fighter, the Caregiver – all beautifully rendered.

A tribute to Jane Goodall portrays a woman standing alone, not conforming to the human jungle, and finding empathy with the denizens of the natural world. A tribute to Julia Child reveals kitchen activity to be more fun than drudgery, reflecting Child’s upbeat attitude and brave life.

Dean created a duet for Taylor Brown and Lindley Hipsher inspired by the hypnotic style of turn of the 20th century choreographer Loie Fuller, which is a wonderful highlight of the show.

Another great piece portrays how the patriarchy of the 1940s and ‘50s saw Rosie the Riveter and Susie Homemaker to be opposites, a choice of giving up one for the other. As the music gives way to an old radio show, “What Makes You Tick?” the Rosies and Susies unite to confront shallow, outdated attitudes.

The company also includes Hope Frey, Alexis Julovich, Nicole Kelter, Clarice Nolan, Hannah Scott, and Ashleigh South.

Crossroads dance gives an inspiring performance, with the grace, flow and energy I’ve come to expect from this dancer-driven company. They take joy in what they do, and so will you.

Upcoming performances are Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon, Aug. 25 and 28, in the Basile Auditorium at the Athenaeum.

IndyFringe: Classical Collaborations

This is part of IndyFringe 2021, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at

By Wendy Carson

Dance is an interesting art form. While anyone can see it and enjoy its beauty, not everyone can understand the intent or its meaning. Crossroads Dance Indy takes note of this conundrum by placing explanations of their choreographic meanings in their program to assist in the enjoyment of the various numbers.

Two dances, “The Thing with Feathers” and “Forever is Now,” are based upon poems by Emily Dickenson. They are beautifully performed, showing the hopefulness of the former and random but vital interactive influences of the latter (which is different with each performance).

Highlights also include “Mountain Train Jam,” a country hoedown with tap shoes, and “Perspective,” in which the dancers beautifully interpret the spoken word, written and performed by Hanna Verdin.

So, whether you’re an aficionado or a novice of the art form, come out and see this show, at the Basile Auditorium at the Athenaeum. Who knows — you, too, may find yourself becoming a dance fan.

IndyFringe: Generations

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at

By Wendy Carson

Some of our regular readers may remember that John saw last year’s show by Crossroads Dance and really loved it. While he admits he’s not a dance aficionado, he does like watching it but often has trouble understanding the meaning behind the moves. The company apparently took that to heart and has included some notes in the program to help with understanding the message they are provoking. That said, let’s get to the review.

The show is arranged as a trip through time, reminding us of the history behind our nation. It begins a beautiful balletic piece in which three nature spirits are gaily playing/creating the landscape of the continent. We then move to a suite in tribute to the settlers that tamed the land and made the verdant farmland that stretches throughout our country today.

It then turns to the twentieth century for highlights of various historic decades using songs from those periods.

My personal favorites were: “This One’s For Al” shows the desolation of the Great Depression but still keeps a touch of hope on the horizon. “Jive Bomber” intermixed inspirational wartime tunes of the ’40s with actual radio reports from the battles, showing the pain the nation felt inside, even while keeping up a positive front. However, being a child of the ’80s, I loved their tribute to the decade of neon spandex and big hair in, “MTV Live.”

Choreographers are Ashley Youmell, Brittany Gaither, and Nicole Dean for the pieces listed above, as well as Candace Reiner, Emily Miser, Sammi Bowyer, Josie Meiss, and Rachael Wieczorek.

So, whether you are just a casual fan of dance, or a lifelong devotee, this show will appeal to you. These ladies, while young, bring about an insightful evening of dance that will likely spark some great discussions afterwards.

Remaining performances are 6 p.m. Wednesday and 3 p.m. Saturday at the District Theatre (former TOTS location), 627 Massachusetts Ave.

IndyFringe: ‘Inter(Actions)’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at

By John Lyle Belden

I’ve heard it famously said that in traditional dances, every movement tells a story. To be honest, that should be true of every good dance performance. For a brilliant example I bring you the young women, and one man, of Crossroads Dance Indy.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, modern and interpretive dance isn’t my thing, so if I found this series of movement pieces engaging, I think anyone can.

It’s not just step-to-the-narrative ballet — though there is a bit of classical ballet, beautifully done — but something more like “feeling” a story rather than hearing it.

The opening piece, “Black Rock Canyon,” to the music of Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire and Interpol (a minute of this was presented at the Wednesday Fringe preview event) was designed (by Lauren Curry of Indianapolis Movement Arts Collective) to portray life in a religious cult. But the movement themes — women struggling in unison together towards and away from the dark singular presence, who moves among them, judging them, forbidding a budding relationship — could be seen as so much more. I could picture the woman in black as Fate or Death, working among the frantic common folk in their daily struggles, reaching out inevitably to one…

The show’s highlights (for me) included an absolutely beautiful routine to “Female” by Keith Urban, choreography by guest artist Nicole Dean; and an awesome interpretation of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” — bless you, Ashley Youmell, for making “Ellie” the eternal optimist.

I have to note as well the uncompromising skill of these local dancers — unison where there should be unison, flow into flow, “random” movement that’s anything but. I’m sure a dance professional could nitpick the heck out of their performance, but I’m not a dance person, and maybe you’re not a dance person, so that doesn’t matter. Just know that some of the best storytelling at this year’s Fringe is done without saying a word.

Crossroads Dance’s “Inter(Actions)” is performed at the District Theatre (formerly Theatre on the Square) mainstage, 627 Mass Ave.

IndyFringe: Modern dance options

By John Lyle Belden

For this entry I’m reviewing two shows: “Inspired Motion” by Crossroads Dance Indy and “Carve” by Motus Dance with Orkestra Projekt.

I’ll admit up front: Dance isn’t really “my thing.” One might think that disqualifies me from being a reliable reviewer of these modern dance shows. But I disagree, to the extent that in this I am the proxy for the average viewer, who hasn’t spent years studying or even thinking about modern dance. Yet you’ve got that Fringe ticket — what are you going to see?

I couldn’t help but think, while watching the dancers execute movements they and their teachers and choreographers had labored over and rehearsed for endless hours, that what I was seeing was like trying to read something with not just unfamiliar words, but a foreign alphabet. When they move their arms like so, or collapse to the floor, or leap in a certain fashion, does it have a meaning they are trying to communicate to us? What is it?

I later spoke with one of the dancers, and she liked my idea that one of the local dance troupes or schools should put on a Fringe show of “the vocabulary of dance,” in which their movements could be better explained and understood. So I can stand at the end of the show, knowing, “ah-ha, I get it now.”

But for now you get my feeble attempts to interpret.

In “Inspired Motion,” in which the dances were designed by the dancers themselves, the performance of the young women of Crossroads Dance can be summed up in the word “graceful.” They flowed one into another like the instinctive flight of a flock of birds. On one piece reflecting the conformity of a cult (going by the printed program) they danced in unison  and unified groups with precision.

For us who must be beat over the head with a metaphor, the piece, “Single Use” makes excellent use of plastic grocery bags as costume and fashion accessories. The ladies even indulge in a bit of humor as they bring their point home.

In “Carve,” on the other hand, the movement of Motus and music of Orkestra Projekt were displays of constant unresolved tension. The dancers had mastery over their bodies and executed their moves expertly. The musicians performed modern Phillip Glass-style pieces (including one by Glass) with sharp precision as well, assuring us that any and all discordant notes were placed there with intent.

On one hand, the styles of these two ensembles, who shared the stage for much of the show, are perfectly suited to one another and their melding is a master stroke. If you like the style of either, this performance is highly recommended. On the other hand, where is the sin in a major chord; and while dance can express strife , stress and pain, can’t it also express joy?

Ah, but what do I know.

Both shows are held on the generous confines of the Theatre on the Square main stage. “Inspired Motion” has performances Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26-27. The last performance of “Carve” is Sunday evening, Aug. 28. Get info and tickets at