One year ago Nanaimo’s Crimson Coast Dance Society was about to hold its annual Body Talk Hip Hop Pow Wow spring break camp when restrictions on gatherings were suddenly put in place due to COVID-19.
Despite the short notice, Crimson Coast artistic director Holly Bright and her team managed to pivot to an online model and this year, with more experience under their belts, Body Talk is returning as a virtual camp.
“I think we turned that around in six days knowing nothing and we’ve been producing events online ever since through a lot of different platforms and combinations of platforms…” Bright said. “Our most recent event had a combination of broadcast-quality streaming performances, to Zoom dance party, to Zoom breakout rooms and we were switching back and forth constantly from platform to platform.”
The camp culminates in a final performance happening on March 27, but in the week leading up to it the youths and their mentors will be determining what that finale will look like.
This year’s camp features two returning artists, rapper Sirreal and dancer A.J. (MegaMan) Kambere, who Bright said have made connections with the youths over the past few years.
“It’s wonderful to see these relationships blossom and that the youths become more and more comfortable with these two artists,” she said. “More comes out from their deepest places when they’re writing or when they’re dancing.”
Also instructing the youths is hoop dancer James Jones, also known as Notorious Cree, from Tallcree First Nation in northern Alberta. This is his third time taking part since 2006. He recently performed during Crimson Coast’s Sum̓sháthut (Sun) Festival in December.
New to Body Talk is Cameroonian dancer Jacky Essombe and Yoro Noukoussi, a drummer from Benin. Last year they were part of Crimson Coast’s Infringing Festival.
Each day of the camp will start with a teaching from Snuneymuxw elder Gary Manson.
WHAT’S ON… Crimson Coast Dance Society’s online Body Talk Hip Hop Pow Wow camp runs from March 22 to 26, with a final show on March 27. To register or buy tickets, visit www.crimsoncoastdance.com/bodytalk.