BC Dance Community Town Hall

Please see below a summary of Perspectives and Practicalities for Re-Engagement, the BC Dance Community Town Hall that took place May 20, 2020 via zoom.


The event was conceived as a shared presentation by artists and service organizations based in BC, in response to COVID-19 closures and the BC government’s Phase 2 re-entry measures. It is noted that Alberta had a very similar model of re-entry announced around the same time.


77 members of the Dance Community were present: dancers, choreographers, studio owners, artistic directors, company managers, stage managers, presenters and technicians.

Artist Ziyian Kwan presented resources to support fellow artists in building their future work plans: COVID Careful and Lower Mainland Dance Calendar.

Artist Michelle Olson spoke to her committee role with the CDA.

Megan Andrews of the DTRC acted as MC, providing opening/closing statements and assisting with technical aspects.

Organizational reps from The Dance Centre (Mirna Zagar), DTRC-BC (Megan Andrews), Made in BC – Dance on Tour (Jane Gabriels), New Works (Julie Mamias) and CADA/West (Jessica Wadsworth) spoke to their current activities and mandates.

Claire French of The Dance Centre provided links, registration and zoom support. Deanna Peters of CADA/West designed promo.

Officers from Canada Council and BC Arts Council audited the session, but did not contribute content.


Mirna Zagar: The Dance Centre re-opened June 1, in accordance with health measures. They have been working closely with health authorities, CAPACOA, ActSafe and communicating with colleagues all over the world. They’ve posted their new measures online. Mirna emphasized our shared responsibility in continuing to limit future outbreaks.

Jane Gabriels: reiterated the idea of shared responsibility and noted different circumstances based on region. Some regional theatres are tied to schools or community centres that are closed and not re-opening. Others are volunteer-run etc. Made in BC hosted a site-specific symposium (May 25-30).

Julie Mamias: as a presenter she is actively working with the artists that were planned for New Works‘ 2020 season, to figure out new ways to realize projects. She feels a responsibility towards supporting artists at this time, while keeping everyone safe.

Michelle Olson: the CDA is actively hosting meetings to ensure that the broader community is aware of the activities of the federal government and the potential impacts COVID-19 will have on artists and organizations. They continue to share resources and updates on their website.

Ziyian Kwan: shared two rescue documents for the community. COVID Careful, best practices for rehearsals, to take responsibility for ourselves and those we engage. She presented other ideas such as paying artists a living wage so they have the option to work on one contract at a time (safer this way). The 2nd document Lower Mainland Dance Calendar is for planning productions in the fall of 2020 and beyond. This way, we can see who is working when and plan accordingly.

Jessica Wadsworth: presented a cashflow document for artists to calculate ongoing expenses, which is especially helpful for tracking postponed project costs. She reiterated that service organizations are feeding concerns into the larger picture, such as the Joint Health and Safety Committee for the Performing Arts at ActSafe, guidelines that are useful for risk assessment, designing safe protocols and ensuring that live or online work is safe for all.

Ralph Escamillan: pointed out that the street dance community has different considerations for health and safety and would like support to ensure that these artists are not left out of the picture in terms of outdoor training, performance and the use of public space, in particular Robson Square in downtown Vancouver, a place where dancers have been working and gathering for over 30 years. A conversation was planned for June 3, supported by Van Vogue Jam, Vancouver Street Dance Festival, Vines Art Festival and CADA/West.

Deanna Peters: spoke about getting back to work at Gold Saucer, with shared protocols enacted by the multidisciplinary artists who run these spaces. Deanna spoke about adjustments to their movement practice due to COVID: wearing shoes, less floorwork, taking the time it takes to even just go to the bathroom and the choreography of cleaning.


Many questions were asked in the chat box. A recording of the event was made and circulated to attendees along with relevant links.

photo top Ralph Escamillan; photos Yvonne Chew; design Deanna Peters