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COVID & the Arts: Ballet QC Moves Online

Ballet Quad Cities

Like other arts organizations during the pandemic, Ballet Quad Cities has moved online.

It makes sense that even though Ballet Quad Cities had to cancel the rest of its season because of Covid-19, the professional company keeps moving forward, mainly in cyberspace. Students in the BQC School of Dance are continuing their lessons online, through Zoom, and students have submitted their own videos for a new collage. 

Credit Ballet Quad Cities
Courtney Lyon, Ballet Quad Cities Artistic Director

Artistic director Courtney Lyon, who recently received an Iowa Arts Council emergency relief grant, is teaching some of the professionals online, and choreographed, taught, and edited a new piece with three dancers on Zoom.

Executive director Joedy Cook and artistic associate Emily Kate Long are continuing the company's year-long commitment to promoting the 2020 Census with a new video based on the company’s “Dance Me A Story: Exploring Literature through Ballet” programs. They connect ballet and literature to provide a new, creative understanding of beloved stories and characters to individuals of all ages and abilities. Lyon likes working with new media, including editing video and music.

“You just have to go with it. That’s why Ballet Quad Cities keeps truckin’ along. Because we always say to each other, we have grit. We’re just gonna keep going. You give us a challenge, some limitation, we’ll find a way to build a fence or build  a ladder to get over that wall.”

Choreographing and dancing using Zoom was limiting and freeing at the same time. 

“All these restrictions for me is a perfect formula for creating a dance. I love restrictions in art because it makes me be more creative, if that makes sense.”

“Dance Me a Story” began as an interactive, in-person experience of using movement and music to create dance versions of familiar tales and has grown to reach over 15,000 in the last three years. Now, Ballet Quad Cities is expanding it into a virtual format, with five new videos to come this month.

Credit Ballet Quad Cities
Joedy Cook, Ballet Quad Cities Executive Director

In each 10- to 15-minute video, participants see and hear the story read aloud. They get to dance along, learning and creating their own choreography to music that captures the characters, action, and emotions in the story. In the first edition of this new format “Look Where We Live! A First Book of Community Building,” Long leads each video.

Cook is proud to be promoting this year’s census.

"We are involved in the census because it’s probably the most important thing we can do as people involved in our community, to be counted. We will not be counted again for 10 more years. And the census, once we're counted, that count determines our roads, our hospitals, our schools - all the wonderful things that we all need for our community.”

Ballet Quad Cities dancers took “Look Where We Live” into area schools during the winter. Its April ballet, “Sleeping Beauty,” will be rescheduled for next year. 

For more information, visit balletquadcities.com.

Formerly the arts and entertainment reporter for The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and Quad-City Times, Jonathan Turner now writes freelance for WVIK and QuadCities.com. He has experience writing for daily newspapers for 32 years and has expertise across a wide range of subject areas, including government, politics, education, the arts, economic development, historic preservation, business, and tourism. He loves writing about music and the arts, as well as a multitude of other topics including features on interesting people, places, and organizations. He has a passion for accompanying musicals, singers, choirs, and instrumentalists. He even wrote his own musical based on The Book of Job, which premiered at Playcrafters in 2010. He wrote a 175-page history book about downtown Davenport, which was published by The History Press in 2016. Turner was honored in 2009 to be among 24 arts journalists nationwide to take part in a 10-day fellowship offered by the National Endowment for the Arts in New York City on classical music and opera, based at Columbia University’s journalism school.
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