Taking the initiative

The Collective’s Baltimore Dance Invitational is in its third year—and it’s just getting started

dancing BDI
Collective Co-Director Jessica Fultz performing in “Stay Tuned.”


Dance hasn’t enjoyed much of an infrastructure in Baltimore. The overall community is relatively scattered and isolated with sporadic audience crossover, but there’s a great wealth of passion and commitment, especially from The Collective, Baltimore’s 16-year-old modern dance company that’s about host the third annual Baltimore Dance Invitational.

Established as a non-profit organization in 2001, part of The Collective’s vision is “to connect with and to the local arts community through collaborations with other artists, guest residencies, bi-weekly dance classes, and performance projects.” That last goal— performances projects—couldn’t have a better manifestation than BDI, which The Collective conceptualized and kicked off in 2013. Co-Director Sonia Synkoski took the time to answer a few questions from the Post.

UB Post: How was BDI created?What was the creation process like?

Sonia Synkowski: BDI was created through collaborative conversations with the company. The Collective has always annually produced an informal showcase event called Open Marley Night. In more recent years, that event started to feel more formal (polished work, fully produced) than informal with in-progress work. That realization lead to the suggestion that we create a new showcase event for work that was fully produced and would benefit from a showcase performance. The Baltimore Dance Invitational was born. The idea was to create multiple dance events for artists/community under the label of “The Baltimore Dance Invitational”—like a mini- festival. In the past two years that included workshops, Open Marley Night, a professional showcase, two dance concerts, and meet-the-artist receptions that spanned four days. This year, we are doing a community workshop, a professional dance showcase, and a meet-the-artist reception all on one day.

Collective member Adrienne Kraus Latanishen performing in “Growl.”
Collective member Adrienne Kraus Latanishen performing in “Growl.”

UBP: How is it funded?

SS: We have had a different funding source every year. Artists have always been paid for their participation in the professional showcase. Funding has been essential to ensuring that the artists are compensated. We are thankful for support received to make this event a success.

In year one we got started with help from the William G. Baker Fund. In year two we launched a successful Kickstarter project. This year we received funding from the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences.

UBP: Where do you see BDI in three years? Five? Ten?

SS: Interest has grown every year so I don’t see the event going away anytime soon. This year we moved BDI to a new venue. In three to five years, I would like to continue to see BDI as a staple annual regional festival with more expanded workshop offerings. In 10+ years, I would like to see BDI as a national festival/conference that ties the community and the professional artist together through workshops/ learning experiences/participatory events/dance.

Collective members Martha Johnston and Rachel Wolfe performing in “Static: If I, Then We?”
Collective members Martha Johnston and Rachel Wolfe performing in “Static: If I, Then We?”

For more information and to see the Invitation’s schedule, head over to http://www.collective-dance.com.

All images courtesy of Matt Roth

Author: ASKlein

I live in Baltimore with a cranky cat, two guitars and a crumbling laptop.

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