The local arts scene is still strong and vibrant overall, despite challenges posed by the global pandemic, according to Jonathan Tabbert, artistic director and resident choreographer at Palmetto City Ballet (PCB).
Even now, “You can find inspiring examples of multiple genres around town on any given weekend,” Tabbert said. “And we are extremely proud to represent professional ballet within the Charleston community.”
In addition to a plethora of more traditional onstage programming that is set to unfold later this year, PCB will also premier a feature-length film, Why Our Walls, at the Terrace Theater Sept. 18, signaling a slight shift in energy for Tabbert’s group.
Like it or not, COVID-19 has left its mark, which is why Kristin Alexander, artistic director for Annex Dance Company (ADC), said her organization is attempting to remain dynamic in light of the most recent public health concerns.
“Last season we tried to maintain audience engagement through digital and virtual sharing,” she told the City Paper. “We filmed four virtual performances, including a virtual preview of Behind, Beyond, Between, that we were fortunate to be able to share at no cost to our audience members, as well as the company’s first dance film, Salt in the Soil, which was filmed at Botany Bay.”
Alexander said this year, ADC will continue presenting virtual content in addition to live performances “presented with the safety of the company and audience at the forefront.”
Lindy Fabyanic, founder of Dance Conservatory of Charleston, said her company remains cautious in 2021 but that ultimately, her vision remains the same as it ever was: to “combine the elite technical training of a preeminent American dance academy with the heart and accessibility of a community dance center.”
Fabyanic told the City Paper she was initially inspired to take “the best and most worthwhile experiences” she had in her training at the School of American Ballet and as a professional dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and New York City Ballet and infuse them into a studio here that would provide sufficient opportunities for young dancers to prepare them for a career in the arts and beyond.
In keeping with that mission, this fall, Fabyanic’s primary focus will be on readying the conservatory’s annual performances of The Nutcracker, a show which boasts a cast of over 150 dancers, most of whom are students.
With all the training, skill and talent that lies behind many larger productions, the world of dance can appear intimidating to an outsider. But anyone who thinks dance is an exclusive realm has never met Dance Lab owner Jenny Broe.
Broe wholeheartedly believes that “every body” can and should dance. And for her at least, this idea is perhaps more relevant now than ever before.
“Dancing is a healing thing,” Broe said. “It makes you feel alive.”
That’s why she curates the Dance Lab studio as a space that is inclusive, accessible and non-competitive for everyone at all stages of their dance journeys.
“We provide a home for some, a family for all, and a super-positive addition to everyone’s day-to-day life. Plus we do some dope, original shows to give dancers the thrill of being on stage, but mostly to transport the audience out of their normal everyday world and into something unique and unpredictable.”
To that end, Broe is pleased Dance Lab’s rescheduled presentation of Extraterrestrial will finally take place this weekend as a way of kicking off the new season.
Still, Broe, who describes herself as a generally positive person, is being realistic about the situation at hand.
“This has been an exhausting, terrifying and completely dark time for the arts — dance studios and companies in particular. It is so hard to dream about the future right now. We started to see the light a few months ago, just to get hit again, and I know we all feel it,” she said.
Looking ahead, Stephany Walker, managing director at DanceFX, is clear about her hopes.
“We will be holding auditions for our adult performance companies Sept. 11, and we definitely plan to resume our winter and spring concert performances. We also have plans to be involved with The Sustainability Institute, perform at various local events, as well as to take our annual trip to Athens, Georgia, to perform in DanceAthens.”
Beyond that, Walker said, “We would love to see partnerships with more local businesses and outreach organizations … At DanceFX, we believe in the power that [visual] art has on communities, and our goal is to show our city the impact that dance can have.”