Dance, reimagined: Connecting through creativity while physically apart

March 8, 2021 12:01 p.m.

Late last fall, the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance at Princeton University presented a reimagined virtual edition of its annual Princeton Dance Festival.

A dancer at twilight dancing in front of a fountain in a pond
Play Video: The Making of Princeton Dance Festival Reimagined

Learn how Princeton’s Program in Dance reimagined its annual Princeton Dance Festival for a socially distanced world during a global pandemic with the help of faculty, choreographers and students living throughout the United States and abroad.

The project featured six diverse, professional choreographers — Peter Chu, Francesca Harper, Rebecca Lazier, Dean Moss, Silas Riener and Olivier Tarpaga — who led the creation of innovative new works with Princeton students, exploring the possibilities of dance in the COVID-19 era. Presented virtually on Nov. 23 and Dec. 3-5, 2020, each evening was a completely unique experience followed by a question-and-answer session with the choreographers.

The video above shares the processes, struggles, discovery, excitement and triumphs of this semester-long effort to reinvent dance.

Along with the entire global dance community, the Program in Dance has been exploring the challenges of dance in a socially distanced world.

Work over the fall semester in dance courses and extracurricular rehearsals culminated in “Princeton Dance Festival Reimagined.” Given that the University’s fall semester was largely conducted remotely with almost no students or faculty on campus, the entire process of creation, rehearsal and presentation was carried out virtually. The live and recorded performances strove to consider how dance artists can create new methods of dance and choreography for the online environment that reimagines frontiers of physical practice and the choreographic space. These new works explored the intersections of dance and multimedia performance, digital animation, filmmaking, site-based work and music.

“The creativity and commitment of our faculty choreographers to meet the challenge of choreographing and teaching virtually was astounding,” said Susan Marshall, director of the Program in Dance. “They and our extraordinary students responded with innovation and resilience to the limitations and potentials of dancing physically apart while virtually collaborating and learning together. These performances are powerful testimony of our students’ resolve to grow and flower creatively despite these trying times.”

Watch the full-length performances online.