Island dancers turn to online outlet to share student showcase

The show must go on — online, that is.

The worst American health crisis in a century was not enough to still, even momentarily, the feet of the students at Bainbridge Dance Center, who will eagerly continue their annual group performance in an albeit slightly modified three-night format at 7 p.m. Friday, June 26.

It is the group’s first virtual performance, and though some scrambling was required, Bainbridge Dance Center Director Christiana Axelsen said there was never a moment when the show was in danger of being canceled.

“I feel like artists are really resilient,” she said. “We will find a way. I have believed that from the beginning. We will find a way to dance every day and we will find a way to perform, I have no doubt that we can do that and my entire faculty was onboard. None of them doubted, not for a second.”

The way they ultimately found was for each class to create a video performance celebrating all they’ve learned this year, which can be accessed by all through links that will go live at at 7 p.m.

“The performances are really important to the kids, so having a performance at the end of year felt really important, especially right now,” Axelsen said. “I think both the continuity of something, that was very important to them, [and] the physical aspect of dance is particularly important for students who are trapped at home. And then the social aspect is huge. These are their peers and their community and their mentors. A lot of the students here have been training together for, some of them decades.

“To have that social support through this has been incredibly important.”

The first performance was Thursday, and featured a combo of ballet, modern and jazz dancers aged 3 to 18.

Friday’s video is a compilation of student-choreographed performances.

“We’ve been collecting videos that students send in [and] they’ve filmed them at their houses, in their living rooms, on their porches,” Axelsen said. “And I think it’s also going to be an amazing document of this time. It’s an accurate reflection of what is going on right now.”

Additionally, Friday’s show will feature a Q&A session with the performers afterward, during which time they’ll discuss their performances.

“People can log on through Zoom and ask them questions about what it’s like to make this work right now,” Axelsen said.

Finally, Saturday’s show is a performance by the Advanced Ballet Repertory program students of “Sleeping Beauty.”

There is a $15 suggested donation, with all the proceeds going toward student scholarships.

“A lot of our families have been really affected by losing their jobs or the economic impact [of COVID-19],” Axelsen said, “and so we’re committed to keeping our families on board and supporting them through this online and into next fall.”

Bainbridge Dance Center went quickly to video-only classes early in the crises, a switch that proved easier for the students, ironically, than teachers, according to Axelsen.

“It’s just been a wild ride,” she said. “I had one student who is like 10 who had to show me how to do the audio, it was really funny.”

Overall, Axelsen said students have been even more passionate about dance in light of current events.

“It’s been a new, virtual reality, but I’ve actually been really impressed and surprised by how things have continued, I don’t want to say ‘as normal,’ but as some sort of new normal,” she said. “The students and the teachers have all come together and they still have class and they’ve created performance pieces and they have these video performances, it’s really cool.”

Visit www.bainbridge to learn more.