GREEN MOUNTAIN FALLS • Vibrant and electric, the dance performances of Antonina Skobina and Denys Drozdyuk have drawn audiences from all over the world.
After a year of experiencing varying forms of lockdown at home in Manhattan and only a limited number of performances, the two are renewing their creativity in Green Mountain Falls.
“The first thing we noticed after we got here was the quiet. To hear the sounds of crickets and birds ... It’s beautiful,” Skobina said.
Artists in Residence for the 2021 Green Box Arts Festival, the dance partners (and married partners) are spending a month doing choreography from the upper level of Church in the Wildwood.
“This place is very empowering for us. We feel safe here, and at the same time inspired and creative,” Skobina said. “There is so much space and it’s very spiritual as well. We are just taking it all in and putting it into our new work.”
Known as DNA ballroom dancers, the two performed only a couple of times over the past year — once at the Belgrade Dance Festival in Serbia and another time in Houston.
For most of the year, however, they relied on Zoom to practice and teach classes at home when their dance studio closed temporarily due to the pandemic. “We didn’t leave our apartment for a month — we tried to keep in shape,” Skobina said.
Teaching and preparing for the classes gave them motivation to keep going, she said. “Even though it was on Zoom it was better than nothing.”
Yet the format highlighted the value of live performance while exacerbating the emotional and physical pitfalls of staying behind closed doors. “Lockdowns taught us that video is not the same as watching live performance and feeling that special energy of the artists,” Skobina said. “The artist’s mission is to give people emotion, to transport people to a different world.”
For the couple whose ballroom performances are dazzling, a video audience is passively participating in the artistry. “Watching a video requires no energy,” Drozdyuk said. “When you go to a social environment you are required to give out your energy, to interact with people. And that’s a totally different feeling that just sitting at home and receiving.”
In Green Mountain Falls, the residency is an interlude, a time to feel gratitude to the festival’s founders, Larry Keigwin and Chris Keesee. “The program gives us validity and confidence and makes us feel that what we do is important, that it matters,” Drozdyuk said. “Because we are supported and don’t feel alone in the creative process.”
Keigwin’s dance group, Keigwin + Company, established the first residency at Church in the Wildwood 12 years ago. “Larry knows firsthand because he is a great choreographer and I think his understanding of what dancers go through is a huge part of creating the residency,” Skobina said. “The creative process is physically and spiritually demanding.”
The residency for the pair is time away from the frenzy of life in New York City. “As artists we take everything in, the air we breathe, the nature we see, the sounds, the energy, the place, it all influences our work,” she said. “And now, when we create new work, the energy of Green Mountain Falls will be in it forever.”
They are in Green Mountain Falls only for a month in the spring.