So here we are!  It is May 21, 2020, two months and counting since Governor Newsome’s Stay-At-Home order went into effect for the State of California. In many ways, it feels a lot longer than that, but when it comes to working on the LA Dance Chronicle magazine, time has flown. We have been surprised at how many articles we have published during this extraordinary time of the OVID-19 pandemic, but in reality, I should have known that artists around the world would not, could not stay stagnant. One does not choose to be an artist. Art, whatever form one works in, chooses the artist.  In my case, it was the Terpsichore, the Muse or Goddess of Dance and Chorus who pulled me into a dance studio at the age of 8 and never let go.

Dance, theater, art, visual arts, music – it does not matter. Artists, and the venues that present their work, from all over the world have turned to technology to teach online classes, offer free viewings of performances, as well as live performances via Zoom web conferencing, Instagram and Facebook livestreaming. As sad as the situation that we find ourselves in is, it has been inspiring to watch how the art community has continued to create beauty and to find ways of keeping our community and the audiences who love what we do, connected.

Since March 13th, LADC has published 35 (and counting) dance and visual arts related articles, 17 (and counting) Stories From the Inside written by dance professionals, 2 reviews of online dance performances, and 1 review/preview of a new Boaz Yakin film premiering on June 12th titled AVIVA with choreography by Bobbi Jean Smith. This is in addition to This Week In Dance by Ann Haskins.

LA street art - artist unknown

LA street art – artist unknown

Each day, and sometimes all day, LADC’s inbox fills up with announcements from The Music Center, Hammer Museum, The Irvine Barclay Theatre, The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Center for Arts Performance UCLA, the Carpenter Center of the Performing Arts, Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) and other arts venues announcing their online performances and discussions with renown artists.

We are receiving daily requests to announce online activities from dance companies in the Los Angeles area such as Kybele Dance Theater, Mixed eMotion Theatrix, Donna Sternberg & Dancers, The Stomping Ground, Jacob Jonas/The Company, and more. Dance artists are continuing to create, to find ways of presenting their work and to gather the skills that they need to do so. They are learning how to teach online classes and to reach audiences beyond what they had before.

When it became clear in early March that presenters were going to close their doors in order to keep people safe, it was heartening that they and most dance artists insisted on stating that their events/seasons/tours were being postponed rather than cancelled. There was hope inside those declarations and a determination to continue to grow creatively.

Screen captures from online performance of Kybele Dance Theater's "Isolated Connections" - Choreography by Seda Aybay - Photo collage by Martin Holman

Screen captures from online performance of Kybele Dance Theater’s “Isolated Connections” – Choreography by Seda Aybay – Photo collage by Martin Holman

I attended a virtual community meeting hosted by Kate Hutter Mason, the owner of The Stomping Ground, during which the dancers did not simply talked through their fears and frustrations or complain. They shared different methods of improving their online teaching skills, dance surfaces to work on at home so that they could minimalize injuries, and sites that give sound advice for physical therapy. Links to those sites were shared in the Zoom chat room along with online performances to watch, and books to read. Sites where one could go to learn more about the technology of creating a dance film or performance were shared. It was inspiring to see how generous and supportive everyone was of each other and the continuation of their artform.

People, not just dancers, are keeping journals to record what they are going through, what they have learned, lost, and hopefully gained. It is my hope too that the dance artists in Los Angeles are writing down their ideas about future plans and how their work will appear in the future. As a person who has watched and taken part in the art of Dance for over 60 years, I am curious just how this extraordinary time will alter, as it surely will, the look and shape of all arts in our world.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LADC, May 20, 2020.

Featured image: Jeff’s LADC work station.