About The S.H.A.D. Project

Every one of us has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we all have a story to tell. In early March of 2020, as the SF Bay Area became the first region in the USA to impose shelter-in-place orders, award-winning travel and performing arts photographer Kyle Adler experienced first-hand the unprecedented upheaval this situation forced upon local artists. As artists, we’re all having to find new ways to create while sheltering-in-place. Face-to-face classes, photoshoots, rehearsals, and performances were canceled. The "new normal" has involved taking or teaching online classes in solitude from our homes. Much of our revenue has disappeared but the bills must still be paid. And nobody knows how long this situation will persist. Whether we dance, act, perform music, make theater, or photograph for our living and/or our passion, life is very different these days.

Kyle launched the  "Something Heroic and Distant" Project (the former working title was "Dance Like Nobody's Watching") to allow SF Bay Area dancers a new means to continue creating while adhering to the letter and the spirit of the shelter-in-place order. The artistic intent is twofold: 1) Document the innate persistent quality of the human creative spirit, even during difficult times; and 2) Demonstrate that while we may be physically isolated right now, we still constitute a strong interconnected creative community. Other project goals include: 1) Provide an artistic outlet for one photographer and several  dozen dancers to make some lasting art while quarantined; 2) Engage thousands of viewers through presenting a portfolio of striking images of dancers creating during extraordinary times; and 3) Generate revenue to be donated to local aid organizations helping the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The basic outline for this project is simple. Kyle collaborated with dancers representing as many dance genres as possible, including ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, hip hop, aerial, pole, Latin, Bharatanatyam, Garba, flamenco, belly dance, Thai classical dance, other folk dance styles from around the world, etc. Diversity among dancer backgrounds, movement styles, and quarantine situations is key here. Professional and pre-professional dancers received priority, but student and amateur dancers were also included as time permitted. Each dancer proposed a plan to perform briefly (~15 minutes) in or around their home in a location that Kyle  could photograph remotely. For example, the dancer may have had access to a balcony, yard, garden, rooftop, or even a prominent door or window from which Kyle could capture their dance from a distance of six feet or further, without having to enter the home. Solo dancers were the norm, but if two or more dancers from the same household wished to collaborate, they were accommodated. Due to the pandemic restrictions, all photoshoots were conducted without an assistant, using only unmodified available light, and with limited gear. Kyle adhered to all rules of sheltering-in-place, which dramatically limited the locations and times of the "distanced photoshoots". Participating dancers neither received payment nor were charged for their participation, and each received several finished high-resolution images at no cost, full credit in all channels where the project will be shared/published, and the possibility of benefiting from any publicity generated.

Kyle passionately believes this project will be an inspiration to other artists to continue creating right now as well as a way to document this bizarre chapter in our collective history. All net revenue generated by the project during the 2020 lockdown period were donated to a local Bay Area not-for-profit organization to help local people in most need. 

Lena Alvino

Léna Alvino
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