Vermont Arts Council

Art in the Time of Covid: Vermont Dance Alliance

Like many arts organizations around the state, Vermont Dance Alliance has been hit hard by the mass cancellations, quarantines, and social distancing necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Loss of ticket sales, fundraising event revenue, and artist morale have left many in the creative sector with more questions than answers—but artists are nothing if not resilient.

As part of a new series featuring creative professionals’ responses to the virus, Hanna Satterlee, founder and executive director of Vermont Dance Alliance, shared her thoughts with the Council.

This feature was first released in the March issue of Notes From Outside the Box, the Vermont Creative Network’s regular newsletter.

What is the most difficult impact you’ve felt from the coronavirus pandemic?

Very unfortunately the Vermont Dance Alliance had to cancel our upcoming March and April Gala events, including a silent auction fundraiser, a works in progress showing, an artists’ social, and the Gala weekend itself-which was to be full of performances and workshops for the public. It was a very sad decision to make, as the five selected choreographers have been working very hard since their acceptance in October to create pieces especially for the Gala. We are thinking creatively now about how best to proceed, and how best to honor each choreographer and their process. This will include highlight videos introducing each artist to the community (coming soon!), as well as individual conversations about how each choreographer might need the support of VDA to continue their work. We will find a way!

How have you gained hope or solace from your arts community since the crisis began?

Vermont Dance Alliance is one of three arts organizations that helped to create the “Smart Artist Series” (the other two organizations are Big Heavy World and Theater Engine ), and a meeting we had with the Vermont Arts Council on Monday really helped to set the tone that we are all in this together, as artists, and as the Vermont creative community.  Resources are being shared via Facebook groups (one has been created, “Smart Artist Vermont,” that artists of any medium can join). The Facebook group “Vermont Dance Alliance Members Forum” is open to anyone needing dance resources-I have been filling it with articles on how dancers all over the world are coping, links to classes and training modules, and links to playlists of music to dance to. It is open for anyone to add their own resources to as well..  It’s awesome to see how many at home dance parties are being planned! And professional companies are offering classes daily. Zoom is becoming more and more popular for live classes, jams and long-distance rehearsals, as it gives us a taste of that feeling of accountability and support that a normal dance session offers.While we are not together physically, we can dance simultaneously and still be engaged in the art form together. Dance is both an introspective as well as a connective art form, so dancers must continue to move together. It will help.

How can people support Vermont Dance Alliance and its dancers through this difficult period?

The Vermont Dance Alliance team believes in the power of community, connection, and sharing resources. The best support would be to join the Vermont Dance Alliance , so that our network may grow, and thus our impact and support in each others’ lives. Joining also helps to ensure the financial stability of our organization. There are three membership options:  we recommend “Artist” for individuals or dance companies (it is open to any genre of dance, any level, any age!), and “Partner” for institutions, services or organizations that may support or service dancers. For audience members, fans, and supporters of dance, you can join as a “Patron!”  In addition, participate in our Dance Community of Vermont Facebook group and share resources that are inspiring you to dance or create. And sign up for VDA’s weekly e-newsletter  to stay informed of the changes and developments as we proceed.

Visit the Vermont Dance Alliance website.

Visit VDA’s CreativeGround profile.

Join the Dance Community of Vermont Facebook group.

The Vermont Dance Alliance is a foundation for Vermont dancers and a public platform for dance in Vermont.