Keeping the Arts Alive During a Pandemic: GO! Contemporary Dance Works

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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly everything in people’s daily lives. However, the arts have especially been impacted over the past year. The absence of live music, dance performances, and any shows pertaining to the arts is felt by all. Most concerts or shows have either been postponed or cancelled altogether, but some have made great efforts to still showcase their creations with the world safely. In particular, GO! Contemporary Dance Works has been back in the studio rehearsing since August 2020 with COVID precautions prioritized. 

In any normal year, GO! would typically be performing multiple shows throughout the year with many different live audiences. The pandemic raised the question of whether or not a show was even possible, but the company members and choreographers loved their art too much to not give it a try. Rehearsals consist of everyone in the room wearing masks, even while dancing, and the strict cleaning of all surfaces touched daily. Fortunately, if anyone felt sick or was contact-traced, he or she could use Zoom to still tune into rehearsals from home. 

On November 15, 2020, GO! debuted their fall show titled “Forging Ahead” at the Tennessee Theater. The show was a mix of numerous pieces each created by different choreographers. Forging Ahead was live streamed virtually through Veeps and reached an audience of over one thousand. The dancers and choreographers were thankful to be back on stage, and this gave hope for the company’s larger show that normally takes place in February. 

“Forging Ahead” poster photographed by Michelle Carr and graphic designed by Robert Felker

Olivia Felker, a senior in GO!, states, “It’s a really unique opportunity for the show to be virtual because we can reach a much larger audience than normal.”

After the success with the November performance, GO! immediately began rehearsals for their next production: The Search for Persephone. This show tells the story of Greek goddess Persephone and her journey. It is three acts long with each occurring in a different setting: the forest, the underworld, and the sea. Well-known characters from Greek mythology like Hades, Demeter, Hecate, Uranus, Medusa, and so many more are featured throughout the story. Ballet, pointe, modern, and aerial work can be seen! 

“The Search for Persephone” poster and image photographed By Patti Googe and graphic designed by Robert Felker
“The Search for Persephone” poster and image photographed By Patti Googe and graphic designed by Robert Felker

Emery Kirby, a GO! senior, says, “This show has been a great experience. Because of COVID we haven’t been able to perform normally, but this has been a new and cool way to share our art.”

The Search for Persephone will be live streamed, again, through Veeps on February 20 from the Bijou Theater. The stage crew, lighting, sound crew, choreographers, and everyone involved have been working extremely hard to make this show happen as safely as possible. More information on the show can be found at www.gocontemporarydance.com or on the company’s Instagram @gocontemporarydance ! Tickets are $20, and the live stream can be viewed for exactly two weeks after the virtual show on the 20th. 

Photographed by Anna Beth Lee

GO! is extremely thankful for the theaters that have given them this opportunity during such a hectic time, as junior GO! member Tempe Coker states, “It’s been a great opportunity to support our local theaters in these hard times without a lot of art present.”