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The future of the performing and performance arts?

COVID has made me scared and tired, but there might be positive aspects. Hi.

We are in a war against an invisible opponent. An opponent that we can not see or feel, but that can kill us within a few days and society within I-do-not-know-but-a-decent-amount-of-days. The battleground is serious but feels like an immature child's game. I mean, what about fair game rules?

Covid-19 leaves us with no or little control and it is frightening. As a choreographer and dancer, I am facing a time where online dance classes, live-streamed performances, and projects created over zoom have become everyday life for the last months. The meeting-in-real-life-in-a-real-space-kind-of-arts (aka performance or performing arts) are at stake because of COVID-19s childish behaviors. When will it be over? Will it be over?

This war forces us to rethink our artform. Performance and performing art, which happens in a meeting, now needs to happen through a screen. It forces us to rethink what we have practiced over a lifetime. Rethink space. Rethink meeting. Rethink live. It is a difficult adjustment to do over a couple of weeks. Will this new online reality continue to be part of life after this is all over?

I am in a war within myself. As a person on a constant hunt for new things to explore, one part of me wants to indulge in the new online reality and make the best out of it, while another part is devastated that the live part of the art form I love is slipping through my hands before I have finished singing Happy birthday. To be able to know how long I wash my hands. We do that now.

I think that the future of performance and performing arts will look different. Through our “happy birthday jams” we will realize the online reality has its positive aspects and a new branch will grow as a little love child created between the movements of our hand washing ritual. We can choose to resist it, but eventually, it will grow on us. And maybe not in a bad way.

What if now is the time to indulge in this online reality of performing and performance arts? What if we can use this time to learn something for the future of it? What if it can bring our art form to a new audience? What if... what if... These are all questions I ask myself because if I don't I will stay behind the reality. I think that is something we can not afford to do right now.

It is a difficult adjustment to do over a couple of weeks and do not get me wrong, there is nothing more I long for than to go watch a dance performance live. But we have time to make this change into something positive. The live aspect of our art forms will come back, but the online aspect will stay and that might be okay. As the upcoming generation choreographers, dancers, performance artists, actors, directors, musicians, circus artists we can not afford to resist. We have the chance of making this change into something concrete and real and great. So let's do it.


Art by David Shrigley