Few art forms have been as crippled by the pandemic as the performing arts, which necessitates an audience by nature. Diane Collins of DC dance, however, has decided that the show must go on and stretched the company’s creative capacities to safely film a 30 routine dance show.

Collins rented a warehouse space, transported a dance floor, assembled a camera team, and meticulously followed COVID restrictions to produce the annual holiday show in a virtual format.

For her students who have spent months cooped up at home behind computer screens, the opportunity to continue dancing has been an invaluable outlet.

“I’m so grateful for the environment Ms. Diane has created even in the middle of a pandemic, and that we have an end goal to work towards even if it isn’t exactly as it was in previous years,” said Sakura Amano, dancer at DC Dance and student at SAMOHI.

While most extracurricular activities have been canceled, students at DC Dance have been able to take lessons in the center’s outdoor parking lot and over Zoom. This allowed dancers to safely learn the holiday show’s routines although almost most aspects of performance preparation had to be adapted.

Physical contact, which is normally a core part of group choreography, had to be eliminated. This meant jettisoning lifts and partner work and embracing spaced out dynamic dance formations.

Even the costumes were tweaked and stylized with custom colored masks selected to pair with each performers’ outfit. As smiles are sadly unsafe, students discovered new ways to express musicality by using their eyes and body language to convey emotions.

“We’re working twice as hard this year to keep our tradition of the DC Dance Holiday show going and letting our dancers have work to present to maintain some normalcy in their lives under the circumstances,” said Diane Collins.

On Dec. 12, following many months of preparation students entered the warehouse in small pods to film their ballet, jazz, contemporary, and lyrical routines. The thrill of a live audience was gone, but performers realized there were benefits that came with shooting the show in advance.

“It was really nice to be able to do our dances multiple times until we felt like we had a good take. Normally you would go out on stage and that was your performance. The person holding the camera was guiding us, telling us where we were in frame and how our spacing was so I think the dances will look a lot more clean and put together,” said Adele Ciociola, dancer at DC Dance and student at Lincoln Middle School.

Following the company’s hard work the show has been edited together and will be released on Dec. 20, so students can share their passion for performing with friends and family.

Clara@smdp.com