Caitlin Swihart decided the summer before she went into eighth grade she was going to pursue her dream. So she wrote on a blue notecard, “I will be a professional dancer.”
Now 29 and married, Caitlin Negron fulfilled that prophecy. The Fort Wayne native attended Weisser Park Elementary School, Memorial Park Middle School and South Side High School and took classes at the Fort Wayne Ballet. She earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance performance and a bachelor of arts in anthropology in 2006 from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
And yes, she became a professional dancer. She is now in her fifth season with Dance Kaleidoscope, a modern dance company in Indianapolis.
But she has carried her passion for the arts further, starting a nonprofit in Indianapolis called Indy Convergence along with co-founders Robert Negron, her husband, and Dara Weinberg.
Caitlin is preparing for the nonprofit's annual two-week residency program in Indianapolis, where artists of various backgrounds share their talents, develop new work and teach workshops. As part of that preparation, she's hoping to raise $4,500 to support the event.
The concept of Indy Convergence started, oddly enough, in Oregon. Dance Kaleidoscope used to pack up and move to Oregon for about five months to perform in Ashland. While there in 2007, Caitlin met Robert and Weinberg.
“The great thing about being out there so long is you find yourself with a lot of extra time,” she said. So the artists started sharing what they knew — such as conducting dance classes.
“We wanted to capture that great feeling of just being able to try things,” Caitlin said.
When Caitlin, Robert and Weinberg got serious about the project, they decided to establish it in Indianapolis, where Caitlin lived most of the year.
Indy Convergence was founded in 2008 with the goal of providing artists with a collaborative experience. The group often refers to itself as “artists at work.” It also describes the experience as a “pop-up” residency. This year, the two-week residency program takes place May 21-June 1 at the Wheeler Arts Community in the Fountain Square area of Indianapolis. Between 12 to 15 artists from Indianapolis and around the country — mostly performance art people — will spend two weeks working on personal projects, teaching free workshops and participating in one “umbrella project” that involves everyone.
The event culminates with an “Open Lab” performance at 7 p.m. June 1 in the Wheeler Arts theater, 1035 Sanders St.
In April 2012, Indy Convergence also joined forces with a new community center just outside Jacmel, Haiti.
“We kind of hooked up with some people working there and thought we could offer our artists a unique travel and art experience,” Caitlin said.
The Jacmel community center supports programs in art, dance, music, English and karate, and it has a soccer team. Indy Convergence provides visiting teacher positions.