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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Courtesy Hong Kong Dance Company

Here’s What Happened When Hong Kong Dance Company Trained Its Dancers in Martial Arts

When dancers here in the U.S. think about martial arts, what might come to mind is super-slow and controlled tai chi, or Hollywood's explosive kung fu fight scenes featuring the likes of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Martial arts in real life can be anywhere and anything in between, as the Hong Kong Dance Company recently learned. A few months ago, the company wrapped up its ambitious three-year embodied research study into the convergences between martial arts and classical Chinese dance. Far from a niche case-study, HKDC's qualitative findings could have implications for dancers from around the world who are practicing in all styles of dance.

Hong Kong Researcher/dancer Huang Lei performing in "Convergence"Courtesy Hong Kong Dance Company

February 2021