Celtic Rhythm Dancers take the show outside in Cowichan during COVID-19 outbreak

Celtic Rhythms dancers (from front to back) Breanne Smith, Morgan Woiden and Austyn Woodward perform outdoors for residents of Ts’i’ts’uwatul’ Lelum on April 9. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Celtic Rhythms dancers (from front to back) Breanne Smith, Morgan Woiden and Austyn Woodward perform outdoors for residents of Ts’i’ts’uwatul’ Lelum on April 9. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Celtic Rhythms dancers perform outdoors for residents of Ts’i’ts’uwatul’ Lelum on April 9. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Celtic Rhythms dancers perform outdoors for residents of Ts’i’ts’uwatul’ Lelum on April 9. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Celtic Rhythms dancers stand outside Ts’i’ts’uwatul’ Lelum following their performance on April 9. (Submitted)

Coronavirus hasn’t prevented the highland dancers from Celtic Rhythm Dancers from entertaining crowds.

The performers from Judy Hogg’s Duncan dance school have taken their show on the road with socially distanced outdoor productions for appreciative audiences who have been affected by the pandemic.

The group’s first such performance took place outside the Cowichan District Hospital on April 4, within sight of patients and emergency room workers. It was followed by a show outside M’akola Housing’s Ts’i’ts’uwatul’ Lelum assisted living home on April 9.

The dancers had been doing things on their own like painting rocks to say “thank you” to the frontline workers when Hogg had an idea for another way to show their appreciation.

“It made me think that we could thank them by doing what highland dancers do best,” Hogg said.

Celtic Rhythms had previously scheduled a show at Ts’i’ts’uwatul’ Lelum for St. Patrick’s Day, but it had to be cancelled, so they went back a month later for an outside show, performing first for one side of the building, and then for the other.

Of course, the entertainment has been a big hit with the audiences.

“Everyone loves watching the dancers,” Hogg said. “It has been very well received.”

About 15 dancers have taken part in the performances so far, and others will probably be available for future shows.

“I don’t think larger groups would work,” Hogg noted. “As their parents have to keep them distanced and I have to have them at least six feet apart to dance.”

Between shows, dancers have been able to continue with their lessons through the Zoom video communication platform.

“I moved my studio to online Zoom classes right out of our spring break,” Hogg explained. “I wasn’t really sure about how it would work and it’s been a little challenging but like everything we do, the more we do it, the better we get. It’s nice for the dancers to look forward to at least one ‘normal’ activity at the same time as usual each day. I think it’s important for the physical and mental health of my students to keep the schedule and keep the lessons going.”

Many of Hogg’s dancers have had all of their competitions for the year cancelled, including provincial and national championships.

“This gives them an outlet to show what they can do and they are always appreciated,” she commented. “The dancers do really enjoy doing these shows and look forward to more and are always asking when the next one is. As young people it may feel that there is not much they can do to help, but this gives them a way to show their appreciation to our health care workers, our older generations and our essential service workers.”

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