“Reimagining Intimacy: Immersive and Participatory Performance in the Era of Covid-19”

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


    For much of the world’s population, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 necessitated heretofore unimaginable levels of restricted activity and social distancing. Individuals of every age, culture, vocation, and educational background saw their lives transformed by voluntary or imposed interpersonal restrictions and/or lockdowns, by direct and potentially life-threatening health impacts, and by the devastation of social, cultural, and commercial economies. Specifically, the pandemic had a devastating effect on artistic performance, both economically and culturally, in terms of training, production, exhibition, and consumption. In this sense, live performance became an immediate and explicit reflection of a broader societal schism in daily behaviours and expectations.

    A great deal has changed over the past two years. After an initial period of shock, and even paralysis, artists and arts organizations around the world have demonstrated resurgent resourcefulness and innovation in pursuit of flexible, multifarious, and emergent routes forward within and through the ongoing pandemic. This process of adaptation has, of course, included rapid advancement in the adoption, development, and refinement of digital and virtual performance strategies. However, emergent strategies related to immediacy, co-presence, and intimacy in live performance—in particular, immersive and participatory formats—are revolutionizing processes of creation, production, and participant experience. Moreover, for many artists, the abrupt disruption of traditional educational, compositional, and production processes represents a valuable opportunity for much-needed reflection and reassessment of sedimented industries and attitudes. From this perspective, Covid-19 has offered a chance to reconsider who has been systemically excluded—in terms of audiences, as well as creators and performers—in past practices and frameworks, and how a corrective to greater inclusivity may, in fact, be accelerated within current conditions.

    “Reimagining Intimacy: Immersive and Participatory Performance in the Era of Covid-19” (RiI) will be held over four days and in four separate locations between 14 – 17 December, 2022. Hosts include the University of Calgary and Concordia University in Canada, and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and the University of Greenwich in London, UK. Combining live and virtual performances, public workshops, artist laboratories, creator and scholar panels, and a one-day symposium, the event will approach its primary preoccupation from a wide and diverse range of perspectives. At the centre of all this activity is the key question,

    “What are the present conditions and future possibilities of intimacy in Immersive and Participatory Performance in a world transformed by the Covid-19 pandemic?”

    Prominent artists and scholars from across Canada, the USA, the UK, and northern Europe will convene to exchange, explore, and collectively vision around this shared preoccupation.
    Period17 Dec 2022
    Held atUniversity of Calgary, Canada, Alberta
    Degree of RecognitionInternational


    • dance
    • performance
    • Touch
    • COVID19
    • distance
    • memory
    • imagery
    • empathy