This month we speak with Christina Hughes and Angela Vecchione, who founded Hughes and Vecchione Dance Projects during the first few months of the pandemic. This platform has brought our community and viewers across the country online screenings, classes and other opportunities to stay connected to dance. I wanted to talk with them on behalf of loveDANCEmore to learn a little bit more about what they were up to.
– SBH, editor
loveDANCEmore: How did you light on this idea of starting a project like this? Christina, at some point early last year, you were considering a move to Canada, no?
Hughes And Vecchione: Prior to the pandemic, Angela & I had already been discussing ways in which we wished we could still perform together. Angela was living in Chicago and I was still in Salt Lake, so we actually had begun composing some movement together via the online realm. Nothing compared to what we do now, but we had shared google folders where we would deposit solo movement phrases that we were planning to assimilate in some way to submit for future performances. Then the pandemic happened and we just thought, “Maybe we should keep this up,” and find a way to involve our community through these screens. From that point, we’ve launched into embracing the experimental nature of what we are creating. We’ve tried developing several pillars of our mission to serve our community, offer classes, performances, and collaborative opportunities. It’s all such a learning curve, but I think what is so wonderful about the way we work together is that we really try all the ideas, no matter how overwhelming or intricate they may seem. We’ve found, there is a lot that can come from creating dance on the screen with others.
In regards to Canada, I didn’t have plans to go there specifically, but somewhere close! I had planned to move to Southeast Alaska last year (which is right on the border of Canada). In about a month, I’ll officially be moving there, and continue to grow and involve the HVDP presence on the West Coast.
Christina, you are here in SLC, but Angela, you’re in North Carolina. What’s it like to navigate that? Which community ends up getting the most of your attention?
The benefit of how we work together is that our friends, collaborators and audiences are all over. The beauty of Hughes and Vecchione Dance Projects is that every single class, performance and event we host lives online. Every step of the process from planning, to choreographing, rehearsing and presenting live streamed performances can be done from any location with wifi. I am living back home in the small town I grew up in and feel fortunate that my family and friends here support online events like ChoreoFest. The biggest challenge we have faced has been converting time zones to be able to map out our schedule; Christina is great about converting everything to EST so I don’t have to!
What are you most proud of accomplishing in your first nine months operating this venture?
I think our year-long project Configurations Choreofest is something we both agree is both our most time-consuming and our most rewarding work. The Choreofest involves HVDP combining with a new artist or company each month to create a new work which intersects art and technology. At the end of said month with our artist(s) we put on a performance to showcase the work-in-progress.
We have met and collaborated with so many incredible artists through this project, and it’s really challenged our approaches to choreography. Our first ChoreoFest featured Mexico-based artist Faby Guíllen who I had met at the Bates Dance Festival two summers ago. We had an international audience at our show, which felt very rewarding and exhilarating.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, we are preparing for our second ChoreoFest performance with the Rhode Island-based TEN31 Metamorphosis Dance Company! In addition, we are gearing up to host our first ever summer dance residency in the Hudson Valley, New York.
Christina, I know you have been teaching dance in schools during the pandemic, what has that been like?
I’ve been teaching in schools, but solely online. It’s been really challenging due to how small my apartment is. I’ve been teaching online for just shy of a year, so at this point, I’ve become accustomed to it. It’s not as daunting as it was in the beginning. Between the work Angela & I do, along with the classes I’m instructing, I’ve learned so much about how our screens can be used to view movement. The kids have adapted really well in my opinion … but, I can’t wait to get back to in-person classes.
How do you imagine that this venture will evolve if and when the pandemic ever comes under control, or even as circumstances shift in the next few months?
We have used HVDP as a way to flex our creativity muscle, grow and stay connected to our community and push ourselves to experiment with a new style of working. Whatever large scale change the dance industry faces in the coming years, we will adapt and apply the open-minded creative spirit we have developed over the past months to continue evolving with the inevitable change that will come. We both love reconnecting with College of Charleston alumni to collaborate on video projects and take class together. Hopefully that routine will stick and we can continue to dance with our friends even as we all relocate, change career paths or step into new circumstances over time.
This article is published in collaboration with loveDANCEmore.org.
Samuel Hanson was born in Salt Lake City in 1988. His recent work has been seen in NYC at Triskelion, the Reckless Theater, Weis Acres, Green Space, at Danspace through the Movement Research Festival, and in Utah at the Rose Wagner and the Masonic Temple. He has performed for an eclectic mix of artists including Simone Forti, Isabel Lewis, Yvonne Meier, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Mina Nishimura, Alexandra Pirici, Ashley Anderson, Diana Crum, and Yve Laris Cohen.