A still from Nile Russell's performance on Decameron Row. Courtesy Decameron Row.

This Virtual Neighborhood Hosts a Growing Collection of Video Postcards from Artists in Isolation

At the start of the pandemic, Itamar Kubovy, a former executive creative producer of Pilobolus, and his friends found themselves checking in with each other via Zoom as a way to connect and cope with life under lockdown. "It made us curious about what all these other folks that we have worked with or known or admired are doing all over the world," he says. "Especially in the dance world, it feels like there were so many people in these boxes trying to remember what it felt like to move—and insisting on it."

Kubovy, together with co-creators and co-producers Stefanie Sobelle, Juan Diaz Bohorquez, Joe Szuecs and Sherry Huss, made connections with 100 artists—choreographers, dancers, filmmakers, writers, musicians and more—and posed a simple request: Submit a video postcard, roughly one-minute in length, responding to the year's events.


A sketch of eight city apartment buildings

Courtesy Decameron Row

Though the participants are based across five continents their videos "live" together on one fictional, virtual street: Decameron Row. Every week, a new set of videos is revealed, each indicated by a lit-up window within an illustrated city block. So far, contributors include novelist Nicole Krauss, pop rock band OK Go and choreographer Ohad Naharin, to name a few.

Though it's a 21st-century way to bring far-flung artists together, the concept of storytelling during quarantine is quite old. Decameron Row is inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron, a group of 14th-century novellas containing 100 tales as told by 10 people who were quarantining outside of Florence during the Black Death.

Two dancers, a woman and a man, lean toward each other while separated by a wall.

Pilobolus' Renee Jaworski and Matt Kent

Courtesy Decameron Row


Don't expect the artists' offerings to stick strictly within their discipline. Some—like Mike Tyus, who dances a duet with a metal railing—do. And others—like Naharin, who repeatedly chants "a day and one more day, a day and one more day..."—don't.

Each window is a surprise, and mousing around to see what's inside each apartment is half the fun. In Decameron Row, Annie-B Parson and her longtime collaborator, visual artist Joanne Howard, live one floor above Pilobolus' Renee Jaworski and Matt Kent. Three doors down is Nile Russell, whose one-minute clip weaves a tale of a summertime snooze that leads to a dream dance scene. Later in the summer, artists like Camille A. Brown and Andrea Miller are also moving in.

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Studio shots by Alinne Volpato

Jovani Furlan's Open-Hearted Dancing—And Personality—Lights Up New York City Ballet

Something magical happens when Jovani Furlan smiles at another dancer onstage. Whether it's a warm acknowledgment between sections of Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering or an infectious grin delivered in the midst of a puzzle box of a sequence in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go, whoever is on the receiving end brightens.

"I could stare at him forever," says New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild. "He's just that kind of open spirit. He's not judging anything. It's like he's looking at you with his arms wide open and a big smile—even if he's not smiling, that's the energy he's giving you."

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