With theaters closed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic, dancers are among the artists who have lost the ability to perform live.
That means they can’t earn income. This weighed heavily on choreographer and University of South Florida dance professor Andee Scott’s mind.
Scott feels fortunate to have had a job these past months, so she made it her mission to find a way to bring dance back to the community, in a safe way.
Scott and fellow choreographer Amanda Sieradzki, through their respective dance companies Dance Linkages and Poetica, conceived a series of public dance performances they’re calling Dance in the Time of Coronavirus.
“Live performance and dance has this unique ability to connect us to our physicality, our bodies, our humanity, our community in a way that makes us remember, especially in this time of social distancing, how can we find ways to bring people together while staying safe,” Scott said.
The first performance, Reverberation, is choreographed by Scott. On June 6 from 11 a.m. to noon, 35 dancers from the University of Tampa, USF, the Tampa City Ballet and Project Alchemy will line up 10 feet apart along St. Petersburg’s First Avenue S between 23rd and 27th streets and perform.
Audience members are invited to attend by bicycle and ride single-file in the dedicated bike lane on the street. The audience will “enter” the piece on First Avenue S at 27th Street and watch the dance unfold.
The organizers ask that people ride in a straight line, maintain social distance and keep moving at a reasonable speed.
People who would like to attend but don’t have a bike can participate by walking, but from across the street, on the north side of First Avenue S; the organizers ask that pedestrians wear masks.
Because the performance is “durational” it has no beginning and no end, so the audience can stagger whenever they arrive. The dance loops about every 10 minutes. It will also be live-streamed on Scott’s Dance Linkages Facebook and Instagram pages.
Scott taught the dancers the phrase, which refers to a short choreographic fragment, over a video. The group will rehearse the dance via a Zoom meeting.
Scott will use part of grant she received two years ago from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance to pay the dancers, who she said were sending her emails expressing excitement over the chance to dance with each other again.
To pay the next round of dancers, Scott and Sieradzki have set up a GoFundMe account for the Dance in the Time of Coronavirus.
Scott has been interested in finding ways to take dance outside of traditional theater and make it more accessible. In 2016, she presented Our Town: A Moving Dance Tour of St. Pete, which featured site-specific dance performances along a walking tour of downtown St. Petersburg. And in 2017, she curated Our Trail, a series of three group performances in different locations along the Pinellas Trail.
She said that dance can be public art. She also feels that in this time of loss and grief — not only regarding victims of COVID-19, but also the recent deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery — we need art more than ever. Reverberation is dedicated to their memory.
“I’m trying to use my skills as an artist to creatively respond to what’s happening right now," she said. "As artists we’re uniquely positioned to be adaptive and resilient, and also responsible to the community and to the world around us.”
IF YOU GO
Reverberation happens from 11 a.m. to noon June 6 on First Avenue S in St. Petersburg. The audience can “enter” on bikes in the bike lane at 27th Street and ride along to 23rd Street, where the performance concludes. Pedestrians can view the performance from the sidewalk across the street. Free. Parking is available on Central Avenue.