Prince Dance Institute has achieved the impossible by mounting a live performance with over 50 students ages 9 to 45, streaming individually from their own homes using the web conferencing application Zoom.
With a “the show must go on” approach, Angel Prince, artistic director of Prince Dance Institute, wasn’t going to let the COVID-19 pandemic keep students from performing in their annual spring showcase.
When the Prince Dance Theatre spring production of “(Still) EnRoute” was canceled due to the Kahilu Theatre’s closure as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prince and the institute’s staff began working on creating an online performance. “ZOOM Out” was written and choreographed in less than a month, and the performance went live on the Zoom webinar platform on May 2.
Written by Prince and Noelani Anderson, “ZOOM Out” deals with our current times, specifically living through a pandemic that has left the entire world reeling. The show is set 1,111 years in the future and portrays a post-COVID-19 world, one in which all races and intelligent lifeforms have united to bring harmony and equity to all who inhabit planet Earth.
“We wanted to use this time to reflect on the situation, and try to imagine a world that we would like to live in,” said Prince. “Our current world moves so quickly, and so many communities and people are left behind in the frenzy to build and grow, that a forced pause like this could potentially be very beneficial for us.”
She added, “While the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating on a global scale, perhaps can use this time to build a better world, one where everyone has access to healthcare, education, housing, food, and a healthy and thriving planet to do it on.”
Using flashbacks of performances from life in April 2020 to performances in present-day 3131, in what they call “The Great Shift,” the performers speak to how the world changed for the better post-COIVD-19 pandemic. The students from Prince Dance Institute utilized dance, song, aerial dance, and light-hearted social commentary to illustrate that tragedy can often be a catalyst for significant change. This concept was not only driven home during the performance but also in the creation of “ZOOM Out.”
Moving quickly once coronavirus guidelines were created, Prince created Zoom accounts and tutorials for her staff so classes could continue online. Once the dust settled and the reality of continued online classes, the cancellation of their early May theater performances, and also seeing the possibilities of Zoom’s ability to bring people together, the idea of and online performance was born.
“Keeping a sense of normalcy for the students was very important. These children look forward to seeing their friends and teachers in class each week, and with all the chaos happening around them, I just wanted to do my part to keep everyone happy and healthy,” said Prince. “Since the performing arts revolve around the performance aspect, once we settled into the online classroom setting, it seemed like the natural next step to figure out a way for these students to perform.”
On May 2, “ZOOM Out” was presented via a Zoom webinar. The performance lasted an hour, with 14 performances featuring hip hop, trapeze, contemporary dance, glee, and more.
“This event has been so inspiring for us,” said an audience member watching Kealakekua. “When an artist performs with an open heart and genuine love of movement, sound, light, and the universe of energy, it has that special spark I saw in everyone today!”
“ZOOM Out” can be viewed in its entirety online at www.princedanceinstitute.com.