For artists working outside of cities with well-established arts scenes, the lack of a creative community can be disheartening. To combat that, Knoxville, Tennessee–based dancer-choreographer Harper Addison founded The Iteration Project, an online platform through which artists from anywhere in the world can connect, experiment and converse. The structure is simple: Every Monday, TIP sends a prompt via email and invites dancers, musicians and writers to share their responses on social media via #theiterationproject. The prompts are usually simple words or phrases—"15 Ways to Say Hello," "Walking" and "Hungry, Alone and Together" are a few. The project also hosts TIP Jams, inviting artists to meet in person to explore the most recent prompt together and forge stronger local arts communities. Get in on the action at theiterationproject.org.
March 31, 2020: It was the day the summer dance festivals died. Though the respective directors of Jacob's Pillow, American Dance Festival and Bates Dance Festival hadn't planned to announce the cancellations of their 2020 editions all on the same day, their decisions appeared in inboxes and on social media channels within hours of each other. This news—marking the first operational break for these three festivals in their combined 212-year history—stood out among the host of spring event cancellations for its prescience. Most summer dance programs were still waiting to make any announcements, in the hope that more time might allow for less drastic cuts to programming. (Vail Dance Festival, which had been scheduled to open July 31, did not announce its cancellation until mid-May.)
Reggie Wilson's POWER debuted at Jacob's Pillow in 2019, and was scheduled for Bates and ADF this summer.
Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow<p>For Bates, ADF and the Pillow, making the call to cancel two to three months in advance was born of necessity and courtesy. "In the weeks prior," says Jacob's Pillow executive and artistic director Pamela Tatge, "we were looking at how long the impact of the virus was lasting in China. When we did the math, that took us through the end of August." Seasonal staff for the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, which runs from June to August, would've arrived in April, and interns were due in May. "We're an international festival, and visas were not being funded," adds Tatge.</p><p>There was also the issue of potential contagion that might result from so many new people in a new-to-them city. "We have a small community here in Maine," points out Shoshona Currier, the director of Bates, which was set to take place from late June to early August. "I wasn't sure what that would feel like, to bring hundreds of people from around the country to this community and possibly overwhelm our healthcare system." As with much of COVID-19, the festival landscape evolved rapidly: "The time from which I first had the thought 'We might have to cancel the festival this year' to 'We have to cancel' was only two and a half weeks," says Currier.</p><p>At press time, all three festivals were forming plans for not one but multiple contingent summer situations. Though scheduled performances are off the table, each intensive is looking to offer a scaled-down version of classes, likely online. ADF is hoping to offer some or perhaps all of its planned summer camps, even if "it's only 10 people allowed in the room," says executive director Jodee Nimerichter. If studio classes aren't an option, she says, subsidized rehearsal space for local dancers may be, if only for solos, duets or trios. "Our goal is to plan for everything as much as we possibly can—and also be ready to alter or cancel or go forward at any point," says Nimerichter. "But we're planning for the unknown, which is very weird."</p>
Paul Taylor Dance Company, here in Company B, were to perform at ADF this summer.
Ben McKeown, Courtesy ADF<p>Because Bates will only offer a week's worth of online classes each for its Professional Training Program and Young Dancers Workshop, 2020 students may roll their acceptance and tuition or initial deposit over to next year. Currier guarantees that all scholarships will be honored next year too. For the Pillow, which will migrate four of its usual six professional advancement and development programs online, students may also opt to defer their acceptance and scholarships to 2021.</p><p>Tatge promises to open up the Pillow's campus—the welcome center, archives and exhibitions—"the minute we're able to stop sheltering at home. If we are able to bring people together for the end-of-summer gathering," she says, "we will."</p>
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