Dance students create virtual community for artists

Meaningful Movement promo images of co-founders Zuri Skeete and Abbey Richens. (Photographed by Natasha Smith)

Two second-year York dance students, Zuri Skeete and Abbey Richens, have co-founded a new virtual community for artists called Meaningful Movement. The community is accessible on Instagram to artists of all disciplines, including dance, visual arts, music, design, and theatre.

Meaningful Movement is an arts collective aiming to inspire creativity and community. We want to bring opportunities to artists whether it be a prompt to initiate the creative process or a chat via Zoom about staying motivated, says Richens, the creative director of Meaningful Movement.

“It is our goal to offer a virtual safe space where artists can come together and delve into their passions,” Richens adds.

Richens and Skeete, who is the acting artistic director, facilitate events for York’s student artists. Amid COVID-19, Skeete says both have agreed there is a demand for connection and opportunity among other emerging creators.

Meaningful Movement is offering an outlet for us to really explore what it means to be an artist in the quarantine era. Additionally, we are exploring interdisciplinary collaborations between artists and finding ways to highlight the process over perfection. Through getting feedback from our followers, we have been able to accommodate what artists need right now,” Skeete says.

Sienna Denys-Peters, a second-year dance student, is a follower and participant of Meaningful Movement. “They post weekly improvisation prompts to inspire artists’ creativity and physical response,” Denys-Peters says. “The reason why I got involved in Meaningful Movement is because I am very isolated from the Toronto dance community since I live in Manitoba. This community that these artists are trying to create is inspiring and a huge support system during this time.”

“The reason why I got involved in Meaningful Movement is because I am very isolated from the Toronto dance community since I live in Manitoba. This community that these artists are trying to create is inspiring and a huge support system during this time.”

Another participant and second-year dance student, Kelsey Bonvie, shares why she is a part of this arts collective.

“The movement was a simple and direct opportunity for me to get out of my head and focus on the little things that give me joy, which for me is dance. Participating in the movement also helped distract me while waiting impatiently for the school year to start.”

The co-founders share that they have an “upcoming series of events which includes a virtual artist residency on our page where creators can share who they are and the work they are currently doing.” They are hoping to eventually evolve their project to include an in-person community as well.

Meaningful Movement aims to facilitate networking events, have wellness chats/journal sessions, and eventually in-person events when it is safe to do so. We are going to continue to follow our interests as creators, exploring process, and hone in on how we can share work during these times. The digital creation era could lead to a virtual artistic renaissance, and we are excited to be part of it,” Richens says.

Skeete adds that their mission for Meaningful Movement is to include the entire artistic community. 

“I really wanted to emphasize that this is a space for everyone. We want artists of all disciplines: dancers, photographers, musicians, visual artists, digital artists, and any other art form you can think of,” Skeete says. We also invite lovers of the arts or just people who want to have a safe space to talk about their feelings, especially within the times we’re experiencing right now.”

About the Author

By Céleste A. LaCroix

Arts Editor

arts@excal.on.ca

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