Salvaging the season: Moving forward amidst new COVID-19 restrictions

The provincial government declared a state of public health emergency on Sept. 15 and announced new COVID-19 restrictions, including measures that apply to indoor gatherings, entertainment venues, and performance activities.

While the new measures set capacity and operating restrictions, under a new Restrictions Exemption Program businesses can require proof of vaccination or a negative rapid test result to continue operating as usual.

Some event organizers, like Mile Zero Dance (MZD), have no indoor operating space and plan to move forward with previously scheduled outdoor events. Fully outdoor events and venues are not subject to any restrictions, though physical distancing must be maintained.

From Sept. 17-19, MZD's Salvage will play out in-person at the Lowlands Project Space, as well as online.

"We were looking for a space to have open-air dance because we thought that COVID might still be a thing in September," said Gerry Morita, MZD's artistic director.

Salvage invites dancers to collaborate with upcycled sculptures installed at the Lowlands space, which is two backyards without the property fence in between, managed by local artists Jill Stanton and Steven Teeuwsen.

"The show concept of 'salvage' was to recycle, to work with what you've got," explained Morita. "The artists have used different materials in the construction of their sculptures, so the dancers will be interacting with the actual objects in the space."

Morita said she is happy to offer a space for dancers to perform, weather abiding.

"So many dancers have been waiting to perform in person," she said, adding that the dancers in Salvage have been working with musicians as well to enhance the show's production. "I think that's something that will be exciting to watch about this show, the collaboration between dance, music, and visual art. It's nice to see people being able to collaborate again."

Katherine Semchuk performs in Salvage. Katherine Semchuk performs in Salvage, running online and at the Lowlands Project Space, Sept. 17-19. (Mile Zero Dance/Kendra Epik)

When it comes to venues and organizations that use indoor spaces, many have not yet released reactions or plans following Wednesday's announcement, but some had already taken a stance on COVID-19 vaccination in recent weeks.

Evolution Wonderlounge announced that it would require digital or physical proof of vaccination for entry. The club said it was "done playing around" with COVID-19 protocols. Meanwhile, Varscona Theatre released a range of safety precautions including proof of vaccination.

The Starlite Room also said it would require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test starting Sept. 27, though that date may be moved up given the provincial restrictions. Citadel Theatre and Winspear Centre had also both previously said they would require attendees 12 and over to present proof of vaccination.