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Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival Goes Virtual

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Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival Goes Virtual

So, what happens when the Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival goers can no longer gather in Vancouver to celebrate the history, culture and art of tap dance? You pivot, of course! So the festival will be online Aug. 24 - 30, 2020.

Taking the festival online has presented a great opportunity to extend its reach and influence well beyond Vancouver. In preparation for the increased online activity, they have upgraded their networks and computers, installed high definition cameras in their studios for great quality and fluid streaming and recording, and have designed a dynamic practice and viewing space with safe social distancing.

For the last 20 years, the Vancouver Tap Dance Society has produced the popular International Vancouver Tap Dance Festival to great acclaim. With world renowned guest artists and attendees coming to Vancouver from around the globe. The festival is a fixture in the international tap community and has always been an exciting and unique form of summer learning and entertainment in the city.

The decision to put on a virtual festival this year was one that was discussed at great length by the Board of Directors, Festival Production Manager Tosh Sutherland and Festival Artistic Director Andrew Nemr. In order to prioritize the health and safety of the attendees and the community, cancelling the traditional festival with large in-person classes, a live summit, and sold out stage shows was considered necessary.

"We understand the need for the joy, celebration, and education that the Festival brings," stated Tracy Chamzuk, Board Director. "As a community that has found great joy in the art form, we understand it is through education and performance that we continue our work celebrating tap dance. We also recognize that the cancellation of this highly anticipated, educational, and joyful event would have a negative impact on our community and culture. At a time when social distancing is the norm and many of us are missing interaction."

Offering an online Tap festival is not an untested model during the shutdown and time of social distancing, but the Festival in Vancouver is unique. They are offering a full live-streamed program, including 5 or 3-day long residencies with world class artists like Derick Grant, Michela Marino Lerman, Danny Nielsen, Andrew Nemr, Tosh Sutherland and Lindsay Sterk. They are also running weekend workshops in solo jazz dance with Nathan Bugh, jazz music and dance with Dan Reynolds, and of course even more tap with Star Dixon, Bryn Kinders, and the incomparable Lisa La Touche.

Additionally, they are continuing with their online 2020 Summit, a gathering of researchers and artists (sometimes both at the same time) aimed at presenting knowledge that is being cultivated in academia alongside the tap dance community's oral history.

The Society, faculty and staff, and all the artists involved in the Festival have been preparing for this situation for the last few months. In isolation, everyone has had to up their game when it comes to continuing to dance, teaching, and finding performance opportunities. All have learned to do everything from home and to do it well. Engaging a class of students or an audience over Skype or Zoom is a new type of art form itself, and these artists have become masters.

Registration has begun. For a full line up of guest artists, schedules, videos and details, visit vantapfest.com.


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