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What Lies Ahead?

Dance artists predict what they think 2021 has in store By Patricia Allison
  • Lexington / Photo by DB Photographics

Everyone will remember the year the world shut down: 2020. As the pandemic swept across the country, dance moved from studios and theatres into living rooms and onto the internet. As this year of upheaval comes to an end, we take stock of everything around us and look towards the future. The Dance Current caught up with dance artists from across Canada to reflect on the past year and predict what will come next.

LETABBY LEXINGTON

Co-founder of House of Hush Burlesque in Edmonton 

I think dance is great at adapting and thinking outside the box, so I hope to see more unconventional performances as well as digital shows where we can share our work around the world. I hadn’t done a livestream previous to March 20th, and it was amazing to do shows with friends in other provinces and countries from the safety of home. 

Live performance for burlesque will look different. For example, there is often a ‘kitten’ who picks up discarded costume pieces after a number is over. Instead, dancers are asked to drop pieces into a basket that they take offstage with them - less glamorous but safer. There is no floorwork in the time of COVID-19, and nothing touches the face or goes in the mouth. Mask or face shield on.

JULIO MONTERO

Latin dance instructor in Vancouver 

Montero / Photo courtesy of Montero

 

Based on the conditions dictated by our health authorities for a return to the old normal, my prediction is that the Latin dance community won’t be able to partner dance in the conventional way until there’s either a vaccine or an effective treatment for COVID-19. Until that day, we’re going to have to be patient and creative. For example, I’ve designed a new dance program called the Social-Distance-Conscious (SDC) Latin Dance Workshops, where we learn a variety of styles while dancing on our own and properly distanced by a minimum of three and a half metres. Once we can safely dance again, our community will return to its usual vibrancy because people appreciate more the importance of this healthy activity.

SUSANNE CHUI

Co-artistic director of Mocean Dance in Halifax 

Chui / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh, courtesy of Mocean Dance

 

I predict that the community will continue working and planning forward with cautious optimism. Letting go of returning to a past reality, people will continue to adapt their work and develop new ways of creating and connecting, both in person and virtually. Reverence for nature will deepen. Critical self-reflection by individuals and organizations will continue to illuminate harmful structures, systems and mindsets that underlie how we operate as a community. This softening has the potential to create space for change if we have the courage to remain present and open.

NATASHA POWELL

Dance artist and artistic director of Holla Jazz in Toronto 

Powell / Photo by Alvin Collantes

 

Live performance is something we all crave, and there will be a time when we come back to theatrical and live performance venues. However, those who are new to creating work for digital platforms are seeing the potential for their art to reach beyond their immediate circle. This is not new for some, but it’s huge for many, so let’s take advantage of it. The opportunity to share more widely, learn and connect with more folks around the globe is here now and has the potential to shift gears for a lot of artists.

LIZ WINKELAAR

Dance artist and dancer representative for Propeller Dance in Ottawa 

Winkelaar / Photo by Andrew Balfour

 

As a dancer representative for Propeller Dance, I can say we are all literally aching over the loss of physical contact and time in a real studio and onstage together. Most of us in the company have disabilities that make us more vulnerable to the virus than most dancers, so we’ll likely be waiting even longer than others to be reunited in the studio. Fortunately, Propeller has created a strong sense of community and an equally strong sense of purpose. It’s going to take more than a pandemic to crush us! We will continually adapt our strengths to this more restricted world and develop new practices not only to sustain us in uncertain times but also to enrich us. Onward and upward!

This article was first published in the November/Deceber 2020 issue. 

Homepage photo courtesy of Unsplash

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