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Fjord Review: Digital Transformation of Dance

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The Fjord Review has just sent out an e-mail report - that unfortunately does not link to an online version, so I will copy and paste the text into the space below...

Digital Transformation of Dance

Earlier this year, Fjord Review surveyed dance companies all around the world to get a sense of how the pandemic was affecting their business. We asked companies how they responded to venue closures and pandemic restrictions, what outcomes flowed from various approaches, and what strategies remain in place. What follows is the first of a four-part report on the digital transformation of dance.
Part One: Going Digital

When Covid-19 swept the globe in early 2020, businesses and organizations across the board were left scrambling. The performing arts sector—heavily reliant upon live, in-person events for revenue—was left with a void, both artistically and financially. This resulted in a rapid shift to digital content in an effort to remain viable. Now, after over a year of modified and predominantly virtual programming, Fjord Review takes a look back to analyze how dance companies pivoted to adjust to a new reality.
We surveyed a dozen organizations worldwide to assemble a comprehensive picture of the strategies that were employed by dance companies over the course of the pandemic.
Results based on Fjord Review's Digital Transformation survey, 2021. Graphics by Ilena Peng
The most common approach to dance performance during Covid-19 was—of course—to go fully virtual. Of the suddenly bountiful digital dance offerings, the most common were new commissions, dance films, and streams of previously recorded performances. Other available content ranged from podcasts to watch parties to free online dance classes.

Developing a New System
The majority of surveyed companies chose to stream their content on multiple platforms, with YouTube, Vimeo, and individual company websites becoming the most popular choices. As for structuring digital seasons, most surveyed organizations chose to utilize either a seasonal membership model or pay-per-view performances, some opting for a combination of both.
Money Matters
Over 80% of dance companies charged for online content, largely basing prices on the cost of traditional season tickets and analyses of the past buying patterns of their patrons. However—even for the companies that did charge—most organizations noted that income from their respective digital offerings amounted to less than 20% of total revenue for the season as a whole.

Audience Boost
An unexpected silver lining came when organizations across the board noticed that the pandemic allowed them to broaden their reach. Each company reported their digital performances garnered viewership from multiple states, territories, provinces, and countries outside their respective homes. Along with the expanded audiences, companies also reported an uptick in donations, new patrons, and new social media followers during Covid lockdowns.

Stay tuned for Part Two: Social Dis-Dancing 
How staying apart brought us closer together
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Fjord Review's 2nd part came today in the e-mail. A webpage is now posted here: https://fjordreview.com/digital-transformation-of-dance/


Digital Transformation of Dance

In this second part of our report on dance during the pandemic, we focus on companies' response. We asked: what strategies did companies employ to create safe performance environments for dancers and the public? And how successful were in-person events, when they occurred? If you missed part one of our report, you can catch up here.
Part One: Social Dis-Dancing

Of the companies that did choose to offer socially-distant in-person events, four companies opted for outdoor performances, and three utilized indoor venues. A variety of approaches were used to ensure the safety of dancers and audience members alike. In addition to social distancing and masks worn by all participants, companies also employed strategies such as:
  • staggering seating times
  • shortening performances to eliminate the need for an intermission
  • reduced audience capacity
  • performances of only pas de deux and solos (limiting pas de deux to cohabiting couples)
  • and the utilization of a health screening for dancers and staff
Approaches to Pricing 
In order to determine pricing for socially-distant performances, dance organizations used a variety of strategies. Several companies included these performances as free bonuses with previously purchased virtual season tickets. Others determined prices based on previous rates prior to the pandemic.
Although, according to survey responses, these performances accrued nominal revenue, all companies had positive audience responses following the events.

Post-Pandemic Performances
Outdoor dance festivals and performances certainly existed prior to COVID-19, but they might become less of a novelty in post-pandemic seasons. While it’s not viable for all companies to perform outside year-round (due to location, weather, and venue availability), organizations might place more focus on non-traditional venues moving forward. Not only does this approach allow for flexibility as the pandemic continues to evolve, it also has potential to expand viewership and cut down on rental costs associated with indoor venues.
Edited by pherank
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