The Big Pivot: Anchorage Performing Arts Groups Adapt During COVID | Culture & Leisure


Adapt. Pivot. Virtual: Words that rarely came out of the mouth rarely became a part of everyday strategy and lexicon during the pandemic, especially for Anchorage performing arts groups and organizations that had to adapt, pivot and become virtual after the theater doors close.

In this grand re-evaluation, organizations made new connections, strengthened old ones, and dived into new mediums for their art.

The public got a glimpse of the artists’ homes and attended concerts from their own living room. Art lovers have gathered outdoors in parks, gardens and lawns that had never hosted professional performances before.

The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra launched its first virtual performance of the Alaska State song at the start of the pandemic. Their ‘Alaska’s Flag’ concert has garnered thousands of views since it went live in May 2020. In November 2020, ASO went virtual for the opening of its 75th season. At the end of the season, 45 musicians could meet in person for the first time in over a year to record a performance at the Atwood Concert Hall.

Drag artists were another group that quickly turned to online shows. The “Queerantine for a Cause” virtual drag performance has raised thousands of dollars for charities and organizations in Alaska.

Other groups ventured into territory they had not explored as much before.

Anchorage Opera has created “Singing Masks”. Inspired by shows they have presented and plan to present, such as “Frida” and “Tosca,” the masks with style and flair have been donated to Anchorage Opera partner organizations. “Until we can sing for our community again, our masks will!” they wrote.

In addition to podcasts and programming at KONR, Out North presented a series of pop-up films, including “I Am Not Your Negro”, “Latch Drom” and “Paris is Burning”.

Underground Dance Company created a film with Bryan Fidel Films and D’zine Alaska. “Break Free” tells the story of four people who “find that dance is a common language that speaks to them differently and has the power to change the way we see ourselves and the world around us”.

Adaptation and experimentation are in the DNA of certain artistic groups. Momentum Dance Collective Artistic Director Becky Kendall said, “We’ve been lucky because we’ve always experienced the types of performances we do every season, whether we’re performing in parks, on buildings, in focusing on making dance films or in traditional theaters.

Momentum performed two different concerts at the Alaska Botanical Gardens in September 2020 and 2021. Audiences walked the half-mile loop in beautiful surroundings while performers could be creative and safe.

Ahead, the performing arts in Anchorage will be a mix of in-person, virtual and new mediums. The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts has guidelines such as wearing a mask and showing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result to protect clients.

TBA Theater’s annual Halloween performances include live events at APU’s Grant Hall with a few streaming options available.

Anchorage Concert Association recently announced a dozen in-person performances. He is also continuing his Community Artist Project, an art series that has made connections and creatively tackled isolation. Projects included “The Quarantine Sister Circle” by MC Mohagani Magnetek, a series of panel discussions and performance art processes designed to encourage empathy, compassion, connection and creativity during isolation and hardship. of the COVID-19 pandemic. Next up is “Of Hope” in April 2022, a performance created by Enzina Marrari that “will provide a space to share difficult things; a place to provide a sense of connection and normalcy through art during a time of turmoil and fear; a place to feel seen and an opportunity to bring back living, place-based art back to Spenard.

Channels and venues may change and adapt, but the performing arts haven’t left Anchorage. Artists continue to perform and organizations continue to pivot to present in new and familiar ways. Whether meeting virtually, outdoors or in the theater with masks on, audiences can always experience the transformative power of the performing arts live.

Laura Carpenter (they / she) lives and writes on Dena’ina land. Connect with Laura on Twitter and Instagram at @lalauramarlene.

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