TORONTO, Oct. 19, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kathleen Rea overcomes pandemic related isolation through a playful new dance form called the PROPinquity Dance Jam

Kathleen Rea ran a Dance Jam for twenty-one years every Wednesday through her company REAson d’etre dance productions. Every week, people gathered to dance to live music. They practiced Contact Dance, a social dance form focused on momentum. Imagine a mix of tango and wrestling where the leader and follower change continually. In March 2020, the COVID pandemic arrived in Canada and the whole country shut down. For the first time in over twenty years there was no Wednesday Dance Jam. Rea tried an online version, but her community didn’t take to it. She states, “Seeing each other over Zoom just exacerbated the grief of not being able to dance together.”

Rea entered a state of depression. Her life’s work was gone. She was not sure she would ever get it back and her community was fractured. She started seeing a therapist who gave the prescription to find a way back to dancing! This coincided with a federal grant to help REAson d’etre adapt to the pandemic. Many dance companies used funds to upgrade online streaming gear or organize online dance festivals. These were worthy pandemic adaptations, but not something that would work for Rea’s community. One day when Rea was playing ball with her kids, she had the idea to play some music. What ensued was a playful ball-dance. Rea felt connected to her body and joyful for the first time in months.

Rea bought gymnastic air barrels, tether balls, eight-foot wooden dowels, large exercise balls, rollers, balance-rockers, and 12-foot elastic loops. She searched for items that dancers could use to practice lead and follow by touching through a prop while maintaining a physical distance, and props that mimicked the movement of a partner. Because the Dance Jam would be outdoors, Rea purchased battery-operated amplifiers for her musicians. She designed a protocol of screening questions, prop disinfection, mask wearing and physical distancing, making sure to stay within provincial government guidelines.

Rea opened the PROPinquity Dance Jam in a local park in July 2020 and hired back several of her musicians. Rea was nervous. She thought, “Are people going to come? Will they enjoy it? Will my protocol keep people safe?”

The idea of dancing with props is not new. During the pandemic social dancers across different genres have faced a loss of touch by dancing with armchairs, exercise balls, and other props. Moving dance classes outdoors is also not new during this time. Rea’s innovation was to provide a variety of props, a unique system to invite artistic expression and connection, and the shared experience of live music. It has become something more than just a replacement for what was lost. It is its own thing.

Three months later, the Jam is going strong, with great turnout every week. Each week, Rea loads up her car with props and with a light heart heads to the park. Rea no longer goes to therapy, because the “dance prescription” worked. And this prescription has carried over to her community who have come out of isolation and benefit from the connecting properties of dance once again.

CONTACT AND SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES
REAson d’etre dance productions
Toronto Canada
Public Relations - Jeff Moskal info@reasondetre.com   416 545 1515
https://reasondetre.com/
Twitter: @REAson_detre
Instagram: @reasondetredance
Facebook: @reasondetredance

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