#RiseMTL is Montreal Theatre Hub’s new journalistic series featuring local artists and companies who are spearheading creative community initiatives for artistic and social activity in response to COVID-19.
The Segal Centre for Performing Arts has established itself as the heart of musical theatre in Montreal with its season programming featuring new Canadian works, themed Broadway Cafés, and Broadway Sing-Alongs, but even now as the lights dim and pulses fade in presenting houses across the city amidst the current health crisis, this cultural epicentre has found a way to keep its beat loud and strong.
The company’s Broadway Super Awesome Fun Time group dance class was first envisioned as a recreational space for the general public to groove it out to Broadway hits regardless of experience or ability. Taught by local choreographer Debbie Friedmann, the class is usually offered in-person weekly at the Segal every Wednesday night from 7:30-9:00 p.m.
“It’s a fun way to get moving in a safe atmosphere geared towards body positivity and confidence boosting,” explains Melanie Thompson, Communications Manager at the Segal Centre.
Class co-creators Thompson and Friedmann, however, (who both incidentally also run the Segal’s social media accounts) have decided to switch to an online format during the current suspension of activities at the theatre.
“We felt that people need showtunes, a little daily work out, and a smile now more than ever. Getting to teach and share my love of dancing and musicals with people during this difficult period is helping me so much, a reminder of how great it feels to do what you love regardless of the circumstances,” says Friedmann.
Above: Choreographer Debora Friedmann leads a live stream of Broadway Super Awesome Fun Time.
The free virtual class is already gathering steam and momentum after only being launched this past Wednesday, March 18th, and due to popular demand, a daily noon session has already been programmed for every weekday for the foreseeable time. Each day a new choreography to a new song from the musical theatre repertoire is taught by Friedmann.
Shares Thompson: “The whole reason I started this class at the Segal Centre is because I wanted a fun, no pressure, no judgment class to learn choreography. Think Zumba with showtunes. It’s become one of the highlights of my week and I was crushed at the idea of missing it while we were closed.
“I have to admit my mental health was also quite strained and morale low. Debbie and I had a quick chat and figured we couldn’t be the only ones feeling this way. Bringing the class online, for free every day as a way to spread joy just seemed like the best way to keep the spirit of the class alive. The first 30 minute class Debbie offered was the first 30 minutes all week. I smiled and laughed and didn’t think about what was going on in the world outside. It was liberating and made us feel like we could keep connecting with people during this difficult time. And isn’t that what dance is all about?”
The special online edition of Broadway Super Awesome Fun Time runs weekdays on the Segal Centre’s Facebook live stream 12:00-12:30 p.m. EST and remains available on the Segal Centre Facebook page to watch and enjoy later for those that can’t join live.
#RiseMTL by Montreal Theatre Hub
Are you or do you know of someone who has started a creative community initiative in response to COVID-19? We’d love to feature it as part of our #RiseMTL series. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org