ART BEAT – Contemporary Dance in a Zoom World

Screen shot of contemporary dance performance, Take My Hand, choreographed by Old Ottawa East resident, Yvonne Coutts.

Screen shot of contemporary dance performance, Take My Hand, choreographed by Old Ottawa East resident, Yvonne Coutts.

Tanis Browning-Shelp

What do dancers do in a pandemic?

What about choreographers?

According to Old Ottawa East resident Yvonne Coutts, Artistic Director of Ottawa Dance Directive (ODD), her dancers have continued to take class and engage with their artistic practice. “ODD’s contemporary dancers have found new and innovative ways to study and engage via Zoom with artists around the world,” she says.

In collaboration with 14 dancers from Ottawa, France, Montreal, Quebec City, and Kingston, Coutts has created a unique contemporary dance piece in Zoom. “I was inspired to create Take My Hand as a way to reconnect with all of the artists who were supposed to be dancing with ODD in projects this past spring,” she says.

“It began as an exploration of hands and togetherness. At the same time, I was also listening to one of my father’s favourite songs: I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.”

“For ODD dancers, who are normally doing in-studio rehearsal and performances right now, it provided a refreshing sense of togetherness in a creative process that provided all kinds of quirky visual expression.”

“We hoped to bring a real sense of intimacy and presence to the work. I wanted to move from the personal to the abstract in a way that would allow for the practicalities of Zoom to disappear. It was vital to have the viewer feel our connectedness as a small community on screen. Overall, it was our way of giving back and offering a bit of dance light to the world in a time of great uncertainty.”

Take My Hand can be viewed on YouTube by clicking on the following link:https://youtu.be/AvhBgziTUEA

Sit back for 17 minutes and experience something extraordinary, created by a neighbour.

“It is best viewed full screen from beginning to end and is inspired by our joint humanity through these times of crisis,” Coutts says. “Hands, love, loneliness, presence, togetherness, all within the strange and glitchy Zoom world.”

A COVID-19 silver lining.

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