Student-run dance project still in the works despite failed crowd-funding goals


The Appalachian Online

Lovey Cooper

After a three-week IndieGoGo campaign left them thousands of dollars off of their fundraising goals, soon-to-be graduates of Appalachian State University and other state university dance programs are still working to make their dream a reality.

The group, which calls themselves the ISO project, wants to solidify their legacy in the state dance community through a 48-hour collaboration between dancers and choreographers to create and perform new works in just one weekend.

The event, Convergence, is scheduled for the weekend of April 11-12 at the Common Ground Theater in Durham, despite the lack of funds. Organizers point out that reaching the fundraising goal would have allowed them to produce Convergence on the scale and with the attention to detail that they envisioned at the start.

Organizer Jenny Chau said that the plan for the project began in the midst of eating brunch after a successful urban dance workshop in Chapel Hill, when participants Aaron Chen, Jane Bowers, Kellie Letner and herself realized that the local dance community needed something fresh to further push its boundaries. They created ISO Project and the idea for a 48-hour dance challenge that beginner to advanced dancers could enjoy and participate in.

“At first, we were just thinking of hosting a fun, unique event, but we decided to name ourselves the ISO Project in case the desire or opportunity to grow presented itself,” Bowers said. “I believe we are a well-rounded team because everyone brings different strengths and skills to the table.”

All of the collaborators behind ISO are either currently dancing or have danced on college dance teams. Letner and Bowers danced together on Entropy Dance Crew at Appalachian State, and Bowers worked with Chau and Chen on staff of KODACHROME NC, a regional dance workshop series.

“One of the platforms of the ISO Project is to give opportunities for a solid foundation in becoming a pioneering leader in the NC dance community,” Chau said. “This is why we want to bring in choreographers in and around the N.C. dance community to share their experiences, and exemplify what it takes to become a proactive leader.”

Bowers hopes that the event will serve as an example to upcoming dancer that collaboration creates new possibilities, as this college crew prepares to enter their post-grad lifestyles.

With careful consideration of the artists’ background, projected future endeavors, and their involvement with their own local dance community, Chau said that the choreographers who will be involved in the event will be those who best illustrate the ISO Project’s mission of “In search of … in support of” to shine light on the stars in the state.

The group chose crowdfunding as a way to reach a wide audience and utilize social media marketing, which was achieved so some extent, as exemplified through the donations that were received.

“Unfortunately, our Indiegogo campaign has not taken off with the momentum we had hoped for,” Bowers said. “However, we are incredibly grateful for the handful of contributions we’ve received, which have come from a mixture of friends and family – all supporters of our N.C. dance community. “

Photographer Lauren Winn donated early on to the campaign, and has connections to the state’s dance community, having photographed many workshops and provided photos for dancers in the Triangle.

She said she wanted to help fill the gap left in the market after earlier this year the dance community experienced a big blow when one of the prominent dance-promoting organizations, KODACHROME NC, ceased operation.

“Though I don’t dance, I have witnessed the magic that is seeing N.C. dancers in their element – dancing, interacting with other dancers, creating something new,” Winn said. “I didn’t want the lack of a structured organization to suppress a dancer’s ability to grow and collaborate with other dancers. I am in full support of The ISO Project’s mission.”

All dancers 16 and older are eligible to participate, regardless of experience or training background. The weekend concludes with a final showcase, open to the public.

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Story: Lovey Cooper, Senior A&E Reporter

Editor’s note: Jane Bowers also goes by Jane Bowser.