The arts can bring people together at a time when they are still required to stay apart in many ways.
The Infringing Dance Festival, presented by Crimson Coast Dance Society, has found a way to go ahead with its 22nd annual festival July 10-19 and offer a program of live and online dance, discussions, experiences and connections.
“The artists that we bring and the work that goes on our stages, it’s exciting, it’s inspiring,” said Holly Bright, executive director of Crimson Coast. “And I think it gets us closer to each other, even though we won’t be as close as we were pre-COVID.”
At a time when other festivals were cancelling summer plans, Crimson Coast Dance Society was finding ways to continue. Bright said initial plans were for a live-streamed festival, but dancers asked if there was a way for them to come to Nanaimo to perform live.
“Artists are starving to perform and that’s literally and figuratively,” Bright said. “They’re really struggling right now and we have a role to play to restart the sector and support that.”
So this year’s Infringing festival will be a mix of drive-in events, “microfest” performances with audiences no larger than 20 people, online interactions and more. Venues aren’t being revealed in advance and even people who purchase tickets won’t be told where they’re supposed to go until the morning of the event in a crowd-control measure that organizers are calling the “corona shuffle.”
One of the live drive-in events Bright is looking forward to is Untitledistance about man from Iran and a woman from Sweden whose online communication and dancing explores themes of togetherness, love, aging, climate change and migration.
“They’re really reflecting on a number of issues and it’s great because it’s mixed media. They have projection, they’re using their computer to talk with each other during the performance, it’s projected on the screen, it’s on the stage,” Bright said. “It has some complexity while it’s also really simple.”
There will also be a drive-in live performance called Immigrant Lessons, in which artists use dance, music, theatre and fashion to share their experiences as first- and second-generation immigrants to Canada.
The three micro-fest performances are Galactic Butterfly with Dave Read and Valentina Cardinalli, Freedom is Internal with Myriam Verzat, and Between Boundaries with Samantha Letourneau, April Laurie, Isabel Ford and Nadine Wiepning. Other Infringing events include a celebration of African dance, drive-in films, online exploration of augmented reality and virtual reality, a “silent disco” with headphones, and more.
Bright said dance can offer opportunities for physical health and wellness, but also social well-being and mental health and well-being, and the Infringing festival can have a role in that.
“We have this opportunity for a shared experience that we can look to each other, look in each others’ eyes and know that we’ve shared this experience,” she said. “All of [the performances] have a transformative element to them and it’s something that I think has been missing.”
For more information about the Infringing Dance Festival, visit www.crimsoncoastdance.org.