Experimentation, Refinement, Replication
AXIS Dance Company is a contemporary repertory company whose mission is to create, support, and educate audiences about physically integrated dance. Through a unique brand of collaborative processes in which dancers with and without physical disabilities create and perform as peers, AXIS has created an aesthetic that is distinctly its own. In addition to maintaining a robust touring schedule, AXIS provides educational workshops in all of the locations in which it performs.
As part of the Artography cohort, AXIS was awarded operational support specifically to increase compensation for its dancers and teaching artists. LINC resources allowed the dancers to receive a competitive part-time salary, group health insurance benefits, professional development and transportation reimbursement, and consistent opportunities to teach, perform, and tour with AXIS. By increasing its compensation of artists, AXIS was able to increase its program activity, which also expanded its network of relationships. In addition, as artists became better compensated by and more deeply engaged with AXIS, they were able to form deeper, more authentic relationships in the community and effectively become ambassadors of the company.
During the grant period, AXIS experienced growth at home season performances, as well as increased national exposure. The home season audience grew from 57% in 2009 to 80% in 2011. In 2012, the company’s touring schedule was so heavy that it curtailed its home season. The demand for AXIS can be attributed, in part, to company appearances on FOX TV’s So You Think You Can Dance, which gave millions of people the chance to become familiar with AXIS, and gave AXIS the opportunity to further its mission to broaden perceptions of both dance and disability. Many viewers wrote the company to say that watching the performance inspired them to pursue (or reconnect with) dance, regardless of their physical abilities. Post-LINC, AXIS is well-positioned to continue to grow its audience and touring schedule, and the company has residencies around the country planned through 2015. Its workshops in Oakland have attracted participants from across the US, Canada, and Poland.
“We’ve learned that community engagement is not just the responsibility of one,” said Artistic Director Judith Smith, “but dancers and all employees can be involved in creating meaningful and sustained relationships with our communities.”