Post-pandemic, dance organizations and theatres are reopening, and choreographers and dancers are returning to studios and stages across the globe with some safety measures added. Slowly, the industry is recovering, reopening, and re-inventing itself. However, the impact of this pandemic may have decimated a field reliant on physical connections, public participation, and live performance, and it has been exceptionally critical to individuals in the dance field. Dancemakers who typically spent hours daily, pre-pandemic, honing their bodies and minds have been subject to quarantine and isolation, jeopardizing their livelihood and artistic future in the dance field. Though the digitalizing of dance has also made dance accessible to audiences who would not otherwise be able to attend dance performances, it may have influence the next dance movement.
So, how can the culture of dance and performance be reimagined? Is it time to reset dance in the 21st century? How will the dances of today reflect our times? How do we support and encourage artists to liberate the form in a post-pandemic world? What does it take to be an artist for those aspiring to be professional artists? Lastly, if we as human beings need to explore and respond to the environment in which we find ourselves, but the world today is so virtual and disembodied, will technology eventually replace human movement? Why do we need to dance more than ever before and what does being a dance artist mean for the future?
The current pandemic and geo-political contexts have exacerbated the difficulties of working for dance artists. The situation also highlights the profound need for connection and community building. Prof. Houston will turn to her research with socially engaged dance artists in order to think about how to move forward with more agency through these
difficulties. She will use her research with socially engaged dance artists working with non-professionals as a basis for exploring what might happen if we start to think about the 'soft skills' that are produced by socially engaged dance practices.
She contends that recognising and articulating how dance artists cultivate soft skills (such as taking care, negotiation, resilience, empathy) might give space for a more confident understanding and articulation of what dancers may offer, not only in a work context, but also to society. She will drawn on her work with the Empowering Dance Erasmus Plus project, collaborating with K3, Dansateliers, CDC Bassano del Grappa, La Briqueterie, HIPP and the University of Zagreb, to illustrate.