This Is Where We Dance Now: COVID-19 and the New and Next in Dance Onscreen — CFP for The International Journal of Screendance

This Is Where We Dance Now: COVID-19 and the New and Next in Dance Onscreen

Guest editor: Harmony Bench (The Ohio State University)

Teaching technique on Zoom, holding online dance film festivals, DJing house parties on Instagram, streaming archival performance documentation, making TikToks—2020 has rapidly rewritten the playbook for dance onscreen and dance online. This is a call for papers and provocations for volume 12 of the International Journal of Screendance, which will critically examine the changes to dance and screendance practices unfolding in the current era of quarantine and social distancing. COVID-19 is impacting the dance field at every level, from artistic creation to performance and audience engagement to pedagogical practices. The long-term implications of this upheaval remain to be seen, but for the moment, we are seeing the culmination of a trend that has been unfolding over the past two decades or more: now all dance is screendance.

This call for contributions extends to any dance practice, any platform, any screen. We understand that some dance artists have long viewed the Internet as a primary platform for sharing their work within vibrant online communities, while others are grappling with sudden and radical changes to their practices. Although IJSD is an English-language publication, COVID-19 is global, and this volume seeks to represent a wide range of perspectives from around the world and across disciplines.

Topics could include but are not limited to:

  • Adapting or developing new screendance festivals for online delivery
  • Dance and community in on- and offline spaces
  • Dance fads, challenges, and viral videos specific to quarantine
  • Emerging dance practices and pedagogies, including modes of delivery and perceived successes and failures
  • Historical precedents, whether from dance and screen cultures of the recent past or those from previous epidemics or times of crisis
  • Manifestos for the futures of dance onscreen


  • Preferred but not required: Expression of interest and short proposal sent to with the subject line “This Is Where We Dance Now”: 15 June 2020
  • Preliminary submission deadline on journal platform: 1 September 2020
  • There may be an opportunity to participate in an online symposium, details TBA
  • Publication date: May/June 2021 following the peer-review and editorial process

For enquiries please email the IJSD guest editor Harmony Bench at


Further information about the International Journal of Screendance:

  • Scholarly articles (3500–6000 words) are peer-reviewed in a fully anonymous process. All other contributions will be reviewed by the editorial board. We are also interested in publishing Interviews (2000–3000 words), Reviews of books, films, or events (750–1000 words) and Provocations and Viewpoints (750–1000 words). For the purposes of review, please indicate which of the above categories best characterizes your contribution.
  • If you are interested in submitting a contribution that does not fall into the above categories, please contact the guest editor for additional direction.
  • Authors must register with IJSD at in order to upload submissions. All submissions should be uploaded by authors in .docx or .rtf format.
  • Please use the IJSD style guide – – authorGuidelines – to correctly format your document.
  • Example article (to help with formatting and style guide questions):
  • Publications in all sections are indexed, but only scholarly articles are peer-reviewed. Please see IJSD’s Editorial Policies for more information.
  • IJSD is published via the Open Journal System.
  • IJSD is published in English and uses American spelling and punctuation.
  • IJSD is published as PDF and HTML files and is fully open access. We serve the screendance field as a whole; therefore, there are no fees for submission, processing, publication, or access to IJSD.

Dancing Together Apart

Earlier this month, my book about the way dance practices have circulated on the Internet since the mid-1990s was published. In Perpetual Motion: Dance, Digital Cultures, and the Common (which you can find online open access here and pdf or epub here), I explored many different aspects of how dance and other embodied practices live on the internet, particularly as it exploded with social media in the mid-2000s. Changes in the dance-mediascape have continued as choreographers and dance teachers have adjusted to building a clientele in a digital economy, as music artists determine how to engage or not with the dance community, as entrepreneurs build platforms and apps for the distribution of movement practice content, and so on. What interested me in Perpetual Motion was how popular media put pressure on assumptions about dance—about who could do it, about the central importance of ‘liveness,’ and about how dancers might craft a bodily community and sense of belonging from the circulation of timely but asynchronous gestures (and the politics of sharing embodied content). What movements do our bodies hold in common? Through what corporeal practices and gestures do we articulate our being-together when we are also at a distance online?

What a difference a few days makes. Within the past several weeks, new considerations have emerged with the novel coronavirus. This time, it is the space-hungry, stage-based, group-oriented dance practices that are moving online en masse. Not only have professional dance artists watched their tours and performances get canceled, dance educators have had to cancel classes, and the adjacent spaces that support dance practice—gyms, clubs, yoga and Pilates studios, community centers, church groups—the places that people gather to be in community—have been shuttered all at once. For those in the performing arts profession as dance makers, dance performers, dance educators, and others, this moment is devastating. Live streaming and video conferencing through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, or even more intimate video chats through WhatsApp and FaceTime offer a lifeline.

Across the country, from dancers with the New York City ballet, to Debbie Allen Dance Academy, to local studios in small towns, dancers and dance teachers whose usual platform is the face-to-face interaction of physical practice, are live streaming dance classes on an unprecedented scale. Katherine Diesnhof created the website Dancing Alone Together to collate these class offerings, which for Sunday, March 22nd alone included multiple levels of ballet and contemporary dance, West African, hip hop, somatics, improvisation, jazz, Gaga, waving, and even the ring shout. Dancers all over the country and even the world-over are determining how to sustain physical practices built on embodied co-presence by pivoting toward digital intimacy in a time of social—which is to say physical—distancing.

Such action of supporting each other in our practices despite extraordinary world events reminds me of the film Into the Forest. Holed away in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, Eva, played by Evan Rachel Wood, continues to rehearse her dance solo for an upcoming competition despite a global power-outage that throws everything into chaos. She returns daily to her luxurious private dance studio while the world basically falls apart around her, leaving her sister Nell, played by Ellen Page, to pick up the pieces. I’m not suggesting that streaming dance classes right now is an example of negligence toward the world, especially since many of us literally can’t go outdoors. But what it does assume is that things will go back to ‘normal,’ and that in a couple of weeks, we’ll all be back in our studios with our dance buddies. We must therefore be prepared for things to go back to normal by sustaining our physical practices now. Surely, some will insist that there is no return to normalcy, and will therefore set about discovering new ways of dancing at home and online that will change how we dance in studios and onstage in the future.

Today, my state went on lockdown. As a dance practitioner and educator, I’m buoyed by the ways movers and makers are sustaining local, national, and international movement communities. As a scholar of dance onscreen, I’m also eager to see what new practices emerge as artists grapple with the reality of living and working in conditions of a pandemic. Because we’re going to need all of them to get through this time of dancing together apart.