In March 2020, the world shut down due to a global pandemic. Theatres were dark for over a year and the performing arts were limited to getting creative with online performances. Windsor Dance eXperience was hit hard and needed to find a way to not only survive but maintain a safe place for young people of our city to stay active and express themselves.
In September of 2020, a small group of people got together to find a way to open safely and provide performance experience by creating a movie instead of a live theatre performance. This would allow choreographers to still create, dancers to tell stories through movement and have an end result of a "production" without depending on theatres being open. We would have the opportunity to perform in a variety of different spaces from farmhouses, to banquet halls, outdoors in the woods and back alley ways, without any walls in a real and tangible setting. We had made several beautiful promo videos before, but a full length movie was a new challenge. Luckily, we had John Chan at the helm, who was just as excited as all of us and willing to put in the work.
We didn't plan for the 2nd or 3rd wave though. These shutdowns required us to move all rehearsals online. The majority of this movie was taught with everyone in their own living spaces, unable to connect with one another until we could go outside and start rehearsing in backyards and open spaces at the mercy of the weather. This also delayed filming and the project that was supposed to wrap in May was extended to August. Dancers and Board members couldn't commit for the extension and volunteers were wary about coming out to help but the strength and will of a few was mighty. They believed and pushed through. I want to specifically thank Ellie, Mya, Jessica and Kendra for always being ready to assist at shoots. Katie for running all over the place creating and transporting props. Roxanne, Brooke, Simone and Natalie were always on hand to help with make-up and hair.
We couldn't have pulled it off or created this unique experience for our dancers without our multiple and vastly different locations. I want to thank the families, businesses and organizations who donated their venues as well as Natalie for helping us scout and organize several locations. The dancers, parents, guest actors/dancers and volunteers also deserve a huge shout out for seeing it through to fruition. It was a long, hard road but continuing down those difficult roads make all the difference and I hope they are as proud of themselves as they deserve to be.
Mostly, I want to thank my husband, John Chan for going on this journey entirely hand and hand with me. This project consumed our lives at some points but we did it entirely together, taking turns catching all sorts of dropping balls. He kept us laughing, guessing and excited. We couldn't have done it without him and it wouldn't have been nearly as fun. Chantzell Productions - creating beautiful things together since 2012.
Windsor Dance eXperience has proven over time that we are resilient and creative in the face of adversity. Not even a worldwide pandemic can hold these dancers down. Congratulations to everyone for their part in creating this work of art and for keeping dance theatre alive in Windsor!
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