The Columbus Modern Dance Company and Chamber Brews have teamed up to create a virtual performance called the “DUO” series, a dance and music combination that will have its final feature performance Saturday.
The performances feature one dancer and one musician that are filmed separately but paired side by side in the video format. But this Saturday will showcase all of the duos that performed over the past few weeks, leading up to a performance of four dancers and four musicians performing together at Ballantrae Park in Dublin, Ohio.
The performances have been airing weekly since Sept. 12 and are featured on the company’s Facebook page free for audiences to watch. The previous performances included “Viola in Roses,” “Reflections of Glass,” “Until A Dawn” and “Falling Inward,” and the series ends with the final presentation Saturday, according to COMO’s website.
“It’s a full-ensemble work. We filmed on-site with all four quartet members and then we had four dancers as well in the same space, socially distanced, everyone wore masks, and we filmed outside,” Laura Puscas, the executive and artistic director of COMO, said.
The performance’s music was composed by Jessie Montgomery, a composer from the record label Azica Records. Montgomery created the piece “Strum” specifically for a string quartet, making it a fit for the final performance, Puscas said. The videography and editing was done by Josh Miller, who works for Matchbox Ltd., a local marketing and advertising agency specializing in digital media.
The final performance took more rehearsals than other “DUO” performances, Devin Copfer, the co-founder, director and a violinist at Chamber Brews, said. The performance is unique in the way that the piece of music the dancers and musicians are performing holds separate meaning and importance for each of them, Copfer said.
“When we were able to bring it to a place where we were opening up our version of the performance to another group that was also bringing their version of the performance, it’s such a vulnerable place,” Copfer said.
For Copfer and Puscas, the performance series has been a long time coming. The onset of COVID-19 only motivated them to make their work more accessible, Copfer said. They cycled through a multitude of show ideas before deciding that video was the best platform for reaching the largest audience in the safest way possible.
“[The idea for the performance] was a bit ever-evolving too, based on what we thought was safe,” Copfer said.
One of the biggest challenges was determining how to represent their visions digitally, Copfer said. She took on the role of digital media manager, something she wouldn’t have had to do under normal circumstances.
“I would like to keep our art more accessible and more published after COVID,” Copfer said. “I’ve used the new technology to question, ‘What’s the opportunity here? How can we engage with people in a new way?’”
Copfer and Puscas both agree that producing a digital performance series has created new opportunities for both of their companies and themselves as artists. It has highlighted the aspects within their independent business that make them powerful while allowing them to connect deeper with their audience, Copfer said
“Video gave us an opportunity to dive even closer than we would, even in a live performance, so it was kind of like we were able to keep that intimacy,” Copfer said.
Each “DUO” act will play sequentially before the airing of the final performance Saturday at 8 p.m. to enable viewers to watch them in chronological order.