Greetings Dear Friends...

Since we posted our last message 6 weeks ago, much has changed in the cultural landscape of our city, our country, and indeed around the world. It is clear we are in the midst of the most volatile time our country has seen in decades, and certainly in the short history (23 years) of BodyVox. Since mid-March, when we closed the Dance Center to the public, we have had daily zoom calls with core staff to strategize on navigating the crisis brought on by the virus. We began by focusing on how we can remain connected to and in service of our community...audience, students, etc...and mitigating financial stresses resulting from a loss of most earned revenue streams. We had to pare our employee count from nearly 45 (teachers, dancers, expanded staff) to a core of 7. We have attenuated expectations from earned income as well as contributed, based on different scenarios of performance, class and event attendance, and the crush on foundations and philanthropic individuals. This is pretty much what every arts organization in Portland is going through. 

With the murder of George Floyd, the revelation of the police brutality behind it, and the ensuing national and worldwide protests around systemic racism, BodyVox was compelled to examine our own culture and practices. We issued a statement through our social media channels in support of communities of color, in support of inclusion, and against discrimination. I'm sure you saw this, but this is what we issued:

BodyVox stands in solidarity with our fellow Americans and the communities of black and brown people all over this country who endure the discrepancies in our justice system. We send our condolences and love to the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.

BodyVox is committed to the work of equity, diversity, and inclusion in our operations, programs, and creation. We must do better, do more. Let’s work together to SPEAK UP, demand justice and equality, end violence, and love more with the empathy and determination that dancers embody on and off stage.

#blacklivesmatter #speakup #nomoresilence #artasactivism #balletrelevesforblacklives

Since we issued the statement, the situation has become a movement. We all realize we have a chance to address deep issues now, that this may be the time, finally, that we as a nation are forced through a perfect storm of wrenching circumstances, to demand reform in the area of police brutality, and to move forward with a focus on systemic racism. There is a groundswell of change. No one has all the answers. We need to support each other and share best practices in pursuit of a more equitable community. 

At BodyVox, we have formed BVPAC: the BodyVox Progressive Action Coalition. Made up of company dancers, admin and artistic staff, and board members, the goal of this group is to engage in honest assessment of our practices, attitudes, actions, climate, and structure through the lens of systemic racism… to affirm the positive, and change the counter-productive.

We are happy to report that we will soon be opening the Dance Center! To begin with, we will hold classes on a limited basis. All classes will be on a pre-registration basis, attendants will be socially distanced, and the Dance Center will be cleaned and disinfected frequently. We will also continue to host online classes for those of you who prefer to dance in your living rooms. Please check the class section on our web page for more information.

While we have been closed, we have been anything but quiet. Many of you have taken advantage of our online offerings …there have been 6,000 views of our free videos, available via StreamingVox; 2,000 individuals have taken a virtual dance class, including 109 new students; and we have held Zoom happy hours on a variety of subjects. It’s been hard not to congregate in the Dance Center, but we have felt connected to our community in spite of the current situation.

We are deep in planning for next season, developing a series of options to deliver our productions to you depending on the circumstances around public assembly. It’s inspiring and a bit nerve-wracking. We just don’t know what the situation will call for this coming fall. Please know that our goal is to share our art with you, to keep our community strong and connected, to remain positive and proactive in this time of change and uncertainty. We are deeply grateful for your continued presence and support in the BodyVox community.

We thank you for your continued friendship and hope that you will consider making a gift to BodyVox so that we can continue this important work.
 
With All Best Wishes,

Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland
Co-Artistic Directors
BodyVox