Visual COVID-19 Streaming Statements: Impact and Creativity

Tabula Rasa Dance Theater: Liquidus
Accent Dance NYC: A Time of Cultural Convergence

Jerry Hochman

The impact of COVID-19 to the international dance community is both well-known and tragic, resulting in a plethora of online streaming performances of classics and more recent creations by companies large and small, and classes provided by dancer/teachers that have become almost too numerous to keep track of, much less witness.

But two sets of performance programs by fledgling New York-based contemporary dance companies have come to my attention that appear to be a bit different by focusing not just on creativity in the face of crisis, but also relate to the specific impact of the crisis itself. One is by Tabula Rasa Dance Theater, the other by Accent Dance NYC, and both are scheduled to begin streaming on July 25.

I reviewed a Tabula Rasa Dance Theater performance two years ago at the Gibney Theater at 280 Broadway, and noted then that although there were rough edges, it was a company to keep an eye on, with choreography by Founder and Artistic Director Felipe Escalante that I found diffuse but also powerful and often compelling. One of the dances on that program, titled Ex Umbra in Solem, might provide insight into the program, which consists of four separate solo performances. Ex Umbra in Solem focused on the impact of contemporary military violence on the populace (I saw it as Syria, but the particular target wasn’t specified), and particularly on involved individuals through solos. This program, Liquidus, with music by Felix Huerta and costumes by Geoffrey Beene, Noriko Naraoka and Sergio Perez) is a series of solo performances that focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on four individual company dancers – Jonatan Lujan, Argentinian; Noriko Naraoka, Japanese; Winnie Asawakanjanakit, Thai; and Escalante, Mexican (the first two tested positive; the other two negative). The dances will relate through dance COVID-19’s impact, including their fears and frustrations and the abilities to be social beings, and how the many months in lockdown have affected their bodies and minds.

Tabula Rasa Dance Theater in “Liquidus”
Photo courtesy of Tabula Rasa Dance Theater

Each solo was conceived while sheltering in place, and each dance is being streamed from the dancer’s home. The series will be livestreamed on You Tube:  on Saturday July 25, August 1st, 8th, and 15th at 7pm EST. Each solo performance will also be available the following day, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

These performers have subsisted without support, unemployment benefits, or relief during lockdown. Consequently, a donation of $3.63 is requested, which can be made via: .

I’m not familiar with Accent Dance NYC, but its name hints at what it’s about: it includes dancers that represent more than 8 different countries and more than 7 dance disciplines.

Founded in 2018, Accent Dance NYC is a movement-based educational and professional performance initiative rooted in the spirit of collaboration and cultural convergence. Through a unique collective of multidisciplinary and multicultural artists, the company provides a dance-based educational program serving schools and arts education organizations in New York City and neighboring areas which bolsters children’s cognitive skills, discipline, learning and communication, while professional choreographic initiatives build bridges among artists from all dance disciplines and backgrounds. In its first year and a half, Accent Dance reached over 1,400 school-aged children with its dance programming.

Dancers with Accent Dance NYC
Photo by Kyle Froman

The presentation, titled A Time of Cultural Convergence, is a collaboration of international artists dedicated to exploring the artistic, cultural, and humanistic connections among people through diverse dance styles, including (but not limited to) exploring creativity in quarantine. A common thread throughout the program is how cultures intersect, and how diversity is what brings vitality and spirit to society. As Accent Dance NYC’s Executive Director and Founder Andrea Ziegelman emphasizes:  “Because dance speaks so deeply, even when devoid of language, we will celebrate our coming together in unity — our convergence — in the face of the many challenges we have endured over these last months in the midst of isolation, social unrest, and a halt in cultural events.”

The program, which will include encore footage from past live performances as well as the premiere of a short dance film, Children of the World, featuring children from across the globe joined together through movement. Originally scheduled for a live concert, A Time of Cultural Convergence will stream on the Jefferson Historical Society Facebook page: Jefferson-Historical-Society-309739662479973  on July 25 at 7:00 p.m. EDT, followed by a live Q+A with the company. The event is free.