By Lauren Warnecke
6 May 2020
Each month, I preview upcoming dance events for See Chicago Dance, highlighting the productions that excite me the most. My job is to entice dance audiences to circle a date in their calendars, to make room for dance and to experience something they might otherwise not have tried.
Large venues closed in mid-March as the COVID-19 health crisis found its way to Chicago. By the end of that month, nearly everything was shut down. Many Chicagoans have more room than ever in their calendars. I write trips to the grocery store in my planner so I can feel as though I accomplished something that day. And artists necessarily pivoted, reacting to the crisis by venturing into digital forums to continue to make work.
This column is not a critic’s pick of online dance concerts, because I don’t intend to watch any.
Over the past several weeks, I talked to many dance leaders. While it’s clear that dance is struggling, it is the nature of dancers to make it work and present an air of optimism. I felt this acutely in private conversations and in an online convening gathering leaders from Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Links Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, High Concept Labs, the Harris Theater, Pivot Arts, and others to report on the state of their organizations. I heard nothing but certitude, even as they spoke about postponed productions, cuts in staff, vanishing grant money and cancelled galas.
Legacy organizations like the Joffrey Ballet, Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Ensemble Espanol, each with more than 40 years of history, have weathered many storms. None quite like this. They may survive by remembering what it was like at the beginning, trimming the fat and whittling down to the core of their missions.
Then there are those who will view the crisis opportunistically. With dance universally leveled, here is a chance for smaller venues and independent artists to get ahead, since they will be able to open sooner. Here is a once in a century window of hibernation in which to reimagine the arts, and to fix that which has always ailed it: Could the pandemic serve as a springboard to abandon scarcity models once and for all? Can a diverse coalition rise to ensure a more equitable, sustainable future for the arts?
Read the article here.