A dancer who had the misfortune of experiencing not one but two national lockdowns is aiming to inspire others at a north-east festival.
Vince Virr started 2020 based in the Chinese city of Shanghai as artist-in-residence at a dance studio – but soon found work halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the pandemic took hold in the country, Vince won acclaim online for creating a digital tutorial, teaching people how to spell out “Wuhan be strong” with different body shapes.
People across China came together to share their messages online as a result of his efforts.
Shortly afterwards, Vince returned home to the UK – only for the country to be locked down in March.
Despite not being able to return to his dance studio for nearly eight months, Vince is now set to deliver a talk at Aberdeen festival DanceLive, where he hopes to continue spreading his message of hope.
The event is being held digitally for the first time in its history.
“I’ve been to DanceLive a number of times in the past: I absolutely love Aberdeen, so it’s disappointing not to be able to be there in person,” said Vince.
“DanceLive is a very special festival – not just locally but nationally for dance in Scotland – and I think it’s really helped to put the city on the map within the arts world.
“I know that a lot of performers, young people in particular, have found it hard to stay motivated through lockdown and it’s something that I’ve struggled with myself. I came from lockdown in China where all elements of life and performance had moved online, and then straight into that same experience back at home. There were tutorials and dance sessions taking place online, but by that time I felt like I was worn out with the digital world.
“It has been a real dream to get back into the studio, but the important thing to remember is that everywhere is a stage. In Aberdeen you have the most amazing backdrops and buildings, so if you can’t perform in the studio, perform outside. Get out and see what’s out there in your community; be inspired and you might discover that it inspires you enough to make you want to move.”
Vince, who is from Glasgow, has performed in 45 different productions around the world.
He is also a member of the city’s renowned Barrowland Ballet, which works with young people, and that led him to create Pop – an energetic dance duet he will focus on during his DanceLive talk.
It harnesses Vince’s passion for inclusiveness, and will be delivered with the help of an audio descriptor so those with visual impairments can also enjoy it.
He added: “Pop was never meant for any audience other than a live one, so it’s been interesting looking back at the videos and reminiscing, seeing people gathering in a way we are not able to do now. The aim is to take Pop on a tour of schools in future and although that still seems far away, we must keep looking forward. One day, all of this will be over.
“If there is one positive thing to have come out of lockdown, it is that people – children, their parents, and their grandparents – are possibly now more aware of the creative industries and the positive impact they can have.
“They have taken part in workshops and online events, and generally had opportunities to engage with their creative skills in a way that they might not have had previously. I really hope people will continue to value the arts, particularly for the power they have to improve physical and mental health and to bring people from across the generations together to engage and learn.
“While we had all hoped that DanceLive would indeed be live, I think it’s a bold move by the organisers to hold a digital festival and still put together such a rich programme.”
DanceLive is now in its 15th year and is run by Citymoves, supported by Aberdeen City Council. It takes place from October 15-18.
For more information visit citymoves.org.uk/dancelive-festival