As we approach and pass the one-year mark since the COVID-19 pandemic caused nationwide lockdowns, South Arts is reflecting on our constituents who have worked tirelessly to overcome new challenges and reimagine their work. Throughout March 2021, South Arts will be running a series of articles penned by our program participants and grant recipients exploring how their work has changed in response to the pandemic.
Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami is a participant in Momentum, a multi-year initiative to strengthen Southern dance companies touring capacity. Starting in 2019, the cohort of Momentum companies have received ongoing professional development, networking opportunities, mentorship with leaders in the field, and other tools to foster their work. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program tactics shifted to support the companies in different ways, but the ultimate goal remained the same: to ensure that Southern dance companies are increasingly competitive on regional and national levels.
The following article was written by Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, Founding Artistic Directors of Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami
After months of crossing our fingers, and naively wishing for a miracle, the exhaustion of hope was bitterly painful. But, just as we were wallowing in artistic and fiscal defeat, South Arts was championing us as part of the five company Momentum cohort. When they announced facilitation of relief funding for each of us, we looked at each other through our 2” x 2” zoom windows in a bit of disbelief, and then we exhaled. Something we hadn’t done in months.
Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami: Start from nothing; stop for nothing.
Start from nothing; stop for nothing - the mantra fueling Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami since day one. Even so, this past year has been, and continues to be, a brutal test of our endurance, unity, trust, and faithful commitment to both the company and the injustices of arts. Arts organizations are uniquely expected (and in many ways forced) to creatively invent our own financial way - to pivot and reinvent at the drop of a hat, and to magically turn straw into gold. To our own fault, and against all odds, we generally do tend to find a way. As we continue with superhuman effort on the quest to prove to the world just how essential we are, we have completely conditioned society to take our constant self-sufficiency for granted.
Around three months into the pandemic lockdowns, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami had a pivotal moment, sparked by the irony of receiving the long awaited great news that we’d receive relief grant funding (thank you South Arts), and the horrible news that the remainder of our live performance season at our home venue had officially been cancelled.
After months of crossing our fingers, and naively wishing for a miracle, the exhaustion of hope was bitterly painful. But, just as we were wallowing in artistic and fiscal defeat, South Arts was championing us as part of the five company Momentum cohort. When they announced facilitation of relief funding for each of us, we looked at each other through our 2" x 2" zoom windows in a bit of disbelief, and then we exhaled. Something we hadn’t done in months.
The funds meant something different to each of us, but collectively, we understood they were meant to temporarily assist in our survival. At Dimensions, we knew that with or without funding, we would only survive the pandemic if we could manifest a way to thrive within it. As a young company of only 4 years, we believed that inactively "hanging on" would have led quickly to our demise, even in light of the pandemic circumstances. As the saying goes "out of sight, out of mind"…and eventually out of support. South Arts had thrown us an unexpected lifesaver. We could either use it to float in place in the middle of the pandemic storm, or leverage it to help us swim in new directions, hopefully into calmer seas. So, with our teeth clenched, facing against the current, and bracing that lifesaver, we started kicking…hard. We did not feel like ethically we had any other choice; we had a tremendous responsibility to our artists, to ourselves, to our donors, and our community; driving us to mobilize against all odds in the midst of a lockdown.