“When we really didn’t know what this pandemic was going to be, times got really, really, really rough. And then, around late March, the entire ecosystem just completely collapsed,” Works & Process general manager Duke Dang says in The Way Forward, the film that kicks off the docuseries Isolation to Creation, which premieres on WNET’s All Arts channel on January 27 at 8:00. The half-hour film follows the creative process of a group of artists who found their previously commissioned works postponed so they had to adapt to the shutdown of indoor venues, in this case the 273-seat Peter B. Lewis Theater under the Guggenheim rotunda, where Works & Process has been hosting sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes looks at dance, theater, opera, and music productions since 1984. The organization quickly transitioned to the new digital world, presenting a wide range of daring and beautiful virtual pieces, more than six dozen so far, all under ten minutes and premiering Sunday and Monday nights, filmed outdoors or from wherever the artists are sheltering in place.
In The Way Forward, Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie, Archie Burnett, Omari Wiles and Kya Azeen of Les Ballet Afrik, Joshua Bergasse, Sara Mearns, Chris Celiz, José Cruzata, Jamar Roberts, Dr. Wendy Ziecheck, and others discuss the metamorphosis to virtual productions, including Covid-19 testing, forming quarantine bubbles in the Hudson Valley (at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, Mount Tremper Arts, and Petronio Residency Center), and collaborating while socially distancing. “It’s a complete launch into the unknown for us, and Duke especially just grabbed it and ran,” W&P producer Caroline Cronson explains. The series, directed by Nic Petry of Dancing Camera, continues February 3, 10, and 17 as the artists get ready for showtime, preparing their works in such styles as Afrik, ballet, ballroom, break, flex, Krump, modern, tap, and vogue. W&P has been more than a breath of fresh air during the coronavirus crisis, streaming exhilarating short pieces that remind us of the power of and intrinsic need for art and all that it brings us, particularly when we’re stuck in our homes, and Isolation to Creation enhances that experience in a big way, holding us over until we can once again return to the Peter B. Lewis Theater and be together in the same space.