The Rosin Box Project (TRBP), a local San Diego contemporary ballet company, is not going to allow COVID-19 to stop the music (or, in this case, the dance). At just two years old, the company is facing its biggest challenge yet with the cancellation of all in-person performances for the foreseeable future and the loss of traditional streams of both revenue and audience building.
Enter the Virtual Box, a video streaming platform created to premiere TRBP original dance performances via art films for one-night-only viewing performances. Thom Dancy, Managing Director of The Rosin Box Project, explained, “Moving work online for June and July felt necessary, not just for the sake of keeping the wheel of arts and culture turning, but also for the sake of everyone in need of an escape. As a tech-savvy group of artists, we feel able to provide that space for others.” By partnering with local and regional filmmakers and artists to create these films, Rosin Box is hoping to produce a new and innovative way to experience ballet, an experience Dancy describes as a “whirlwind”.
The Virtual Box will premiere brand new works from the company in addition to film versions of previous audience favorites. Dancy explained, “The dancers are actually hard at work right now creating a choreographed work JUST for the Virtual Box entitled “The Art of Loneliness.” In addition to the Virtual Box, TRBP is offering a lecture series comprised of past performances alongside commentary from both the choreographers and dancers involved with the productions. The lecture series, “Performance Notes,” allows audiences to learn more about the process of creating and bringing art to life and is typically offered on a one-day-only basis much like the Virtual Box content.
Perhaps one of the most notable elements of TRBP’s efforts is their strong interest in accessibility, with most performances operating on a pay-what-you-can basis, “A lot of our work is donation-based. The Rosin Box Project is about family: our dancers, our board, our staff. When families notice other families struggling, they don’t circle the wagons, they reach out together. Pay-what-you-can has been our way of saying thank you for being here with us in a tough time, let us thank YOU by producing the most engaging art we can.”
Next steps for TRBP include the production of individual dance films for the Virtual Box and for their July Series (which will premiere in July and August for audiences) in addition to the expansion of their Quick Steps online series that allows audiences to learn choreography directly from TRBP’s repertoire. While virtual content is mapped out through August, Dancy is holding out hope for a very special late summer live performance, “We still hope to host live shows (with respect to CDC regulations) in late August, including a performance JUST for frontline and essential workers.” TRBP has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise support and funds to give back to essential workers through an exclusive performance for frontline essential workers scheduled for late August at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center.
“Art is a chance to let go, to commune with others, to feel deeply and share those feelings. When events like the COVD-19 pandemic strike, arts may actually be one of the most vital resources we have. I see a strong desire from people to engage in things, like the arts, that make us feel a sense of normalcy in this trying time.”
News and updates about The Rosin Box Project’s season can be found on their website. Stay tuned for announcements on their next one-night-only Virtual Box performance in the coming weeks.