CHICAGO (CBS) – COVID hit hard on the Chicago performing arts industry. Dancers, choreographers and set designers suddenly lost their jobs; and communities were suddenly deprived of the opportunity to enjoy live shows.
Morning Insider Lauren Victory leads us into a campaign that has begun to address both issues amid the chaos of COVID. The goal now is to bring art back – and directly – to the audience.
Choreographer Robin Mineka Williams was creating on the spot when CBS 2 attended a rehearsal at South Loop Studios. She was experiencing steps that could take the stage in a few weeks at the exhibition “UNTOLD”, presents the PARA.MAR Dance Theater.
The company was born at a time when COVID-19 was raging. It was a time when many dancers and their careers were on the sidelines.
“I was just stuck at home and I thought, you know, ‘What are you going to do when everything dies?’ Like, “show the opportunity, even if it’s going to be very difficult,” said Stephanie Martinez, who founded PAR.MAR in 2020.
It was hard. The first PARA.MAR show “Kiss” was in the parking lot in Avondale. Martinez had to be creative about social distancing – and her budget.
“There were design elements, and just things I’ve never done before, and there’s always been a team,” Martinez said.
The performers wore masks and worked out most of their parts for “Kiss” via Zoom. They are happy to have the chapter behind. The company’s next challenge is to stay afloat, bringing its beauty to low-income areas.
Accessibility is an important part of the PARA.MAR mission. The upcoming show will take place at a warehouse in East Garfield Park, so people living in the community won’t have to spend money to go downtown to the theater.
“Some people may have $ 5, some $ 25, and some $ 100,” said Adriana Desce Durant, executive director of PARA.MAR, explaining another element of affordability: the “pay what you can” model. tickets. This reduces costs for those who need it, and brings in money to cover the cost of production, which will be up to tens of thousands of dollars.
“Landscapes, lighting, food, licensing – it’s all quite expensive, so every little thing helps,” said Desire Durant.
Donations are also encouraged outside of live shows. The funds are helping grow nonprofit free fuel classes like the ones they’ve offered at Rogers Park in recent months, and will be offering again after UNTOLD performances.
“We are a tiny, tiny team; and we produce one piece at a time and we would like to stay, ”said Desier Durant.
Having an impact on Chicago, step by step, you can watch the PARA.MAR show on May 26 and 27. The next free dance workshop after the performances will take place on May 28 at the Garfield Park Conservatory. It is open to all ages and abilities.