When Kristin Damrow took over Choreographers & Coffee from founder Charles Slender-White in 2016, it was a monthly, in-person meetup. Dancemakers in the San Francisco Bay Area would sit down together and share their experiences, celebrating, commiserating and problem-solving over caffeinated beverages. But in the wake of COVID-19, Damrow has shifted the now-weekly sessions online, and opened it up to choreographers everywhere.
While pre-pandemic conversations have included grant writing and balancing administrative work, navigating this new dance landscape has raised new, urgent topics for discussion: paying dancers, reevaluating company budgets, postponing performances and keeping creativity flowing while quarantined at home. "I think we're being bombarded with so much information and are connected to our computers even more than we usually are," Damrow says. "There's a plethora of resources that we can use, but this is not just a link—it's people engaging in conversation about the material."
The chat section of Zoom has been particularly beneficial for sharing resources brought up during the meetup. If someone has a subtopic they'd like to be addressed or doesn't want to speak in front of the group, the chat provides a space for side conversations. Topics can also be bookmarked to be revisited at future meet-ups.
Choreographers interested in participating can join the Choreographers & Coffee Facebook group. The link to the meetup, which happens every Thursday from 1:30–2:30 pm (PST) on Zoom, is posted 30 minutes prior. The Facebook page has also become a forum for conversation about both challenges and positive moments, with topics curated by Damrow, as well as a place to find and recommend resources.
"I feel that we are all coming together to learn from each other and hear each other's experiences," says Damrow. "We can find out what's working and what's not working. And it's building deeper relationships with artists that we may not have as close of a connection to. We are in it together."