June of last year Aeriosa hosted the first ever Vancouver International Vertical Dance Summit (VIVDS). More than 30 vertical dancers and six choreographers from multiple countries participated in a wonderful 7-day event. It was a massive undertaking and we came away having learned so much. Some of the challenges we encountered were: accommodation, communication, transportation and rigging.

Finding and arranging affordable accommodation for all the guest dancers and choreographers in one of the world’s most expensive cities was a feat, but in the end the YWCA Hotel lived up to their reputation as friendly, convenient and comfortable. 

Many were unfamiliar with the city and English was not everyone’s first language. The communication system we ended up using to connect organizers, dancers, choreographers and riggers was through ‘What’s App’. This app enabled video chat, text messaging and photo sharing between all users. Pretty amazing. The challenge though, was that everyone needed to have a cell phone with data and be willing to upload the app.

Transportation of dancers between sites proved to be our biggest challenge. The dancing sites included a grove of trees in VanDusen Botanical Gardens, free-hanging formation exploration in the Woodward’s Atrium, a short outdoor wall at SFU Woodward’s Campus and the iconic Guinness Tower Building in the evenings. The schedule was tight and moving people always took longer than planned. Buses were too slow and taxis did not always work out. In hindsight, having volunteers shuttle dancers to and from the various locations would have been such a valuable service.

The riggers had epically long days due to our zealous visioning of multiple dance sites. Next time around we would probably simplify with just a one-site operation. Everybody recognized what rock stars the riggers were. On the final day of the event, the dancers gave a long-lasting shouting standing ovation for the riggers who had given their all.

All in all, VIVDS was a huge success. We learned many new skills – in dance and otherwise. Our biggest goal of networking and connecting vertical dancers across the globe was achieved. Viva VIVDS!