COVID-friendly ‘silent’ dance classes find an audience during the pandemic
Achievements in the performing arts have been scarce during the pandemic, as artists and event producers struggle to adjust to reduced capacity limits, increased health protocols, and non-existent income.
However, new models have appeared. Small businesses have access to government relief funding, which is designed to encourage new ways of doing business. For occupational therapist Anne Marie Hogya, this meant moving aspects of her practice into the silent dance arena, where clients and members of the public are guided through a multifaceted therapeutic process – usually outdoors, each customer wearing a Bluetooth headset through which Anne Marie can communicate by microphone.
Events in the city are permitted with an outdoor commercial use permit from the City of Victoria, with an approved COVID-19 exposure and safety plan in place for all sessions, Hogya said.
âThe ‘silent’ part means that the whole community around us can’t hear, but everyone with headphones has the same experience and can coexist in an environment together. People can sit, people can stand – you don’t have to jump around. A woman who saw us once on the beach, who is 77 years old and her husband is in hospice, she called me and told me that she needed a release, and now comes to my Classes. It’s about people entering their own bodies, which is cool.
The idea – which goes by various names beginning with the word “silent”, often followed by “disco”, “dance” or “yoga” – was first introduced on Vancouver Island in 2015 during the festival now. known as Cumberland Wild. The Comox Valley event gathered hundreds of revelers under a circus tent at 1 a.m. for a silent disco, with live DJ music streaming straight to Bluetooth headphones.
Noise regulations were not broken and, with the full cooperation of the area police, guests wishing to dance the night away were given the opportunity to do so.
Silent events have extended beyond music during the pandemic. Practitioners in the meditation and yoga fields have embraced the practice, including Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse in Saanichton, which has increased its on-site outdoor offerings to include social distancing helmet yoga throughout the year. ‘summer.
Hogya also offers three five-day dance classes through September.
Mary Lloyd of Silent DJ Victoria has been running in-person classes via Bluetooth across town since October. She meets with groups outside for a range of events, from silent dance lessons to silent disco nights. Since attendees are connected to music through their headsets, there isn’t a lot of equipment needed, meaning events can be held in virtually any location at random times of the day.
His first Silent DJ event took place at Fisherman’s Wharf Park in James Bay. âI did it at night, and at the time it was early night, so the helmets were glowing,â Lloyd said. âThe city lights made everything so beautiful. People were saying how exhilarating it was.
Her classes over the following months were attended by everyone from a mother with a newborn baby wrapped on her chest to a woman in her 80s, she said. She even offered a class for kindergarten students at South Park Family School.
Lloyd is hosting three events this weekend, for dancers of all ages and skill levels, at the south end of Willows Beach in Oak Bay, near Bowker Street. Therapeutic dance classes (at 10:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and an old-growth performance (8 p.m.) are among the dozen she’s planned for the next few weeks.
Many Lloyd’s events have a fundraising component, so its courses bring together a variety of participants. She compares her role to that of a therapeutic dance leader. âIt’s great to have a business where I can make an impact in the community,â said Lloyd. “I love it.”
The holistic benefits are numerous. Hogya is an occupational therapist and dance teacher; by embracing the silent dance, she was able to blend the clinical and the creative, and tailored her offerings to engage clients with a variety of mental health issues.
âIt helps people who need to break free and express themselves,â Hogya said. âWhen they have a headset, where I can talk to them, and not necessarily be right next to them. I can help them without being intrusive.
The helmets have a range of several hundred meters, which gives participants a degree of control if they wish to move in an environment where they may feel less self-conscious, she added.
âThis morning I was on the beach with people dancing, and this couple is walking by, and they had no idea. We can have this whole experience, and no one knows it. It’s fascinating.”
Lloyd said the idea of ââsilent events is best summed up by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who wrote: âAnd those who were seen dancing were considered crazy by those who couldn’t hear the music.
The dancers who participate in her monthly full moon dance classes often get the most attention, she said. The lessons she led in the snow also attracted attention. âThere is a real curiosity and fascination about it,â Lloyd said. âIt’s kind of a vicarious pleasure to see these other human beings express themselves so freely and spontaneously.
âThere is something that really touches people. “
Information on events organized by Hogya can be found at annemariehogya.com. Lloyd’s programs are available at silentdjvictoria.com.
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