Canada-based dancer-choreographer and founder of Sampradaya Dance Creations in Toronto, Canada, shares her thoughts on the impact of the pandemic on her company and the arts in general.
The pandemic was unprecedented and dramatic in its impact on the arts across the globe. One was totally unprepared for having to shut down and to cease operations so abruptly. Performances were cancelled, new creations left half completed and a general sense of alarm and anxiety about the future. Artists who have always lived on marginal livelihoods faced a precarious situation of having to consider giving up a life in the arts.
For Sampradaya Dance Creations, it was imperative to stay in operation, to nurture our dancers and staff. To provide them emotional and financial support, continued use of our studios to rehearse to create. We in Canada were very fortunate to receive subsidies from the Government to support our operations, pay rent and overheads while our revenue sources had completely stopped.
It was a time for introspection; to uncover the meaning and value of dance for each of us individually and how to make it more authentic, meaningful and impactful for our audiences and to society.
We embraced the concept of sharing dance digitally through commissioned works, dance festivals, series and conversations. Supporting emerging artists through online mentored choreographic residencies was a priority for Sampradaya.
A clear sense of a global community of dance artists emerged through the digital exchanges of dance conversations. Amidst the sense of isolation the pandemic forced upon us, the blessing of technological connectivity and new collaborative initiatives was a distinct breakthrough. I saw that there would be no turning the clock back; as we all prepared for a new era of hybrid offerings of live and streamed performances, well produced dance films and multi-disciplinary works showcased online
Today, we see a return to in person classes and rehearsals for new productions. Audiences who were wary of in-theatre performances are eager for live performances and willing to go through the various steps of safety protocol. Larger theatres with Broadway scale shows are seeing encouraging levels of audience attendance. Live streaming of international dance productions has exponentially increased the offerings that one rarely had access to.
Today we are on the threshold of a promising future of dance connectivity that can lead to engagement, collaboration, activism. We have the right to have a voice for the future.
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