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DanceAfrica, Dormeshia and Contact Improvisation (for One)

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The DanceAfrica experience has always been about more than just the performances gracing the stage of the Brooklyn Academy. It’s about the surrounding magic, too: the food, the street fashion (it doesn’t get better than this, anywhere) and even — don’t judge — the shopping. The DanceAfrica Bazaar, with its heady array of fabric and jewelry, is like parting the curtain to summer.

DanceAfrica, under the artistic direction of Abdel R. Salaam, hasn’t been so much a festival as a state of mind. So what will that mean this year? With some imagination and thoughtful curation, it is being transformed into an ambitious digital adventure, complete with performances, films, talks, classes and, yes, an online marketplace.

On Wednesday, the festival’s producer, Charmaine Warren, hosts “Contemporary Dance and DanceAfrica,” in which the choreographers Rennie Harris, Jamel Gaines and Ronald K. Brown discuss their participation in DanceAfrica over the years with the help of video performance clips. On Friday, James Colter, a founding member of Mr. Harris’s PureMovement company known as Cricket, leads a bantaba hip-hop class. And on Monday, Mikki Shepard, the original producer of DanceAfrica, talks about the festival in its early years, from 1977 to ’84, with Ms. Warren.

It’s true that DanceAfrica is the antithesis of our current socially distant world. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be reimagined — and, like usual, make you feel better than you did before it started. Events run through May 29.

The Joyce Theater has teamed up with Tap Family Reunion, a program celebrating National Tap Dance Day, to present a dazzler: “And Still You Must Swing” by Dormeshia, the singular tap artist who goes by only her first name.

As part of JoyceStream, a curated digital platform, “And Still You Must Swing” will be shown for 24 hours starting at 5 p.m. on Monday. (One section, featuring the modern choreographer Camille A. Brown, has been omitted.) A talkback with the artists — Dormeshia and the sensational tappers Derick K. Grant and Jason Samuels Smith — follows at 6 p.m.

In “And Still You Must Swing,” Dormeshia looks at tap’s link to jazz and lights up the stage with her magnetic, refined dancing. It’s effervescent yet grounded. Yes, her feet move across the stage with relentless and remarkable speed, but what carries you away is her unmitigated elegance and smooth sense of swing.

The performance is part of a larger occasion: the third annual Tap Family Reunion, which features five days of online programming directed by Dormeshia, Mr. Grant and Mr. Samuels Smith. In honor of National Tap Dance Day, it’s a chance for these artists to pay homage to those who came before them.

The last couple of months, I’ve immersed myself in hours of online movement, from ballet and Merce Cunningham to Sweatfest and Pilates. But last week, I discovered a new and welcome diversion courtesy of Movement Research, the downtown experimental organization dedicated to the investigation of dance and movement-based forms. Here, classes challenge the body and the mind, including Contact Improvisation: Basics. “What does it mean,” Gabrielle Revlock, asked us in that class, “to be in your ‘skinesphere’?”

She was citing a term used by Nancy Stark Smith, a founding member of contact improvisation, that loosely describes things moving through the body. (Ms. Stark Smith died this month.) What it meant, at least for me, had to do with internal sensations: being aware of the relationship between the skin and everything around it, namely the floor. We explored concepts like bonding with the earth and agitating the mass. “We can be 360,” Ms. Revlock said, “and operate from all sides.”

Suddenly, the sensation of the body rolling, sliding and spiraling, whether standing or on the floor, was both disorientating and electrifying. My mind was clear. Who knew that contact improvisation could work as a solo venture? You usually need a partner. Here, our partner was the air, the floor, a chair.

At Movement Research, an array of classes allow participants to become acquainted with a range of eye-opening somatic — or body-mind awareness — practices. There is Feldenkrais Method, which explores the nervous system. BodyMind Dancing, in which movement is drawn from improvisational structures and repeated phrases.

And as a treat, on May 26, Vicky Shick, the veteran dancer and choreographer, presides over morning class, in which, the description states, students work to find “ease, clarity and a bit of motion.”

It’s a surprise to see how effectively somatic classes work on Zoom. But they retain their intimacy, and that makes sense: Movement Research is an organization held together by the power of exploration. In that spirit, just try: No one’s watching. There’s nothing to lose but stress and inhibitions. This is medicine for the body and the mind. And what’s more, it’s free.

New York Live Arts, led by its artistic director, the choreographer Bill T. Jones, hosts a robust digital series, Diary: Pause/Intermission, that includes choreography that you can learn from home. Recently Shane Larson, a member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, presided over “Shapes With Shane” on the group’s Instagram Live feed, in which he taught material from Mr. Jones’s “Deep Blue Sea.” On Wednesday, the former Jones/Zane dancer Jenna Riegel will begin teaching shapes from “Continuous Replay.” The sessions are at 3 p.m. Eastern for three consecutive Wednesdays.

Originally choreographed by Arnie Zane and reworked later by Mr. Jones, “Continuous Replay” (1977/1991) features 45 gestures accumulated in space and time and was initially inspired by Zane’s love of photography and film. In actual performances of the work, there is nudity involved. You can make that choice for yourself, but practice accordingly: Pull down the shade.





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