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Holiday from COVID-19

By Nick Zacharias



PHOTO COURTESY JESS CUMBERBIRCH

Dancer and choreographer Jess Cumberbirch chose haunting locations when performing her dance, inspired by the struggles and also hopefulness many are feeling during the pandemic.


Ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer Jess Cumberbirch of Studio Balletvolution in Pointe-Claire has teamed with guitarist Brian Greenway of April Wine to produce a COVID-19 inspired choreography of his acoustic version of the song ‘Holiday.’ Put together for the joy of creating a work of art and to share something beautiful in a difficult time, the video has been released freely online.

Gift to the community

Said Cumberbirch, who has known Greenway for many years, “When I saw that he’d posted an acoustic version of the song, my husband and I approached him and told him how we were inspired to create a choreography to go with it. When I asked if we could do it, he said, ‘sure go for it – it’s my gift to you.’” She said it was an honour to dance to his music, and she saw it as an opportunity to give something to the community at a time when many are struggling.

Hard times for artists

The pandemic has made things difficult for artists everywhere. Greenway, a long-time resident of the Hudson/Saint-Lazare area, put it simply, “Artists depend on mass gatherings; we were the first to close and we’ll be the last to open.” Since the start of the various levels of lockdown he’s been doing live shows on Facebook just for an outlet to share music.

The new video appears to be having the desired effect. Said Greenway, “There have been thousands of views, people seem to be enjoying it.” As for Cumberbirch, the motivation was much the same. With the studio closed for the pandemic, she and her husband Eric Mehta jumped at the chance to flex their creative muscles working on the COVID-friendly small-scale production that they choreographed and filmed together, along with helpful input from Greenway.


PHOTO COURTESY BRIAN GREENWAY

Iconic guitarist Brian Greenway, who’s known multi-platinum success and an induction to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame with his band April Wine, strikes a pensive, uplifting note with his acoustic rendition of ‘Holiday.’


Haunting and hopeful

“The song ‘Holiday’ kind of reflects what a lot of people are feeling,” said Cumberbirch. “With the locations for the video, we wanted to capture that feeling of vulnerability and fragility, but also show a hopeful and encouraging side.” In a true-to-life reflection of that fragility, Cumberbirch laughed at the thought of having lost a few ballet shoes that were destroyed while dancing en pointe on rough paving stones and rocks. She said it was worth it though, to accomplish what they did. “The haunting locations combined with the beauty of the song and the choreography create a hopeful message. It was great to be able to create something that allows people to escape for a few moments and enjoy something beautiful while all this is going on around us.”

“Please come and take me on a holiday,” goes the song, and even if only for a few fleeting minutes, they hope the video can do just that.

The video can be viewed on Studio Balletvolution’s Facebook page.