by Keeley Braunstein-Black
Snowdance started back in 2012 when it was unseasonably warm, and there was almost no snow. Due to the lack of snow there was no ski hill to run and there was an abundance of musicians on staff. Thus the impromptu music festival featuring staff gave birth to Snowdance.
The 10th anniversary of Snowdance falling in a pandemic year held certain challenges for the people at Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes & Falcon Trails Resort.
Emily Christie, artist director of Snowdance, says, “Now here we are in the opposite situation, a year where instead of no snow, there are no live events. So we’ve stepped up to the challenge to revisit and rethink the festival, and have adapted it in the form of a month and a half long series of weekly “Snowdance at home” online video episodes, showcasing the sorts of live music and wintry workshops that you’d find on a normal year at the festival.”
“The biggest challenge has been the timeline. When we finally got word that we had received the grant it was already late January, and it came with the stipulation that we would have to pull this off by March 31. Because our plan had been to release a series of 6 episodes, we would have to pull it off fast,” says Christie. With the help of BNB Studios on video, Lloyd Peterson on sound, and Madeline Roger keeping everyone on track, they managed to complete the project over the course of a few days.
Keeping things COVID-safe proved to be quite the challenge, “we had to be very careful to limit the number of people on set at any one time, so the sets were closed, and each band had a scheduled time with no overlap. We had to take other considerations such as mandatory mask wearing at all times, other than when actually performing, space out everyone as much as possible, and lots of sanitizing of the space. Much of the filming of the “extra footage” of activities and behind the scenes ski hill action that is peppered throughout each episode was filmed at home by themselves to cut down on risk,” Christie says.
As it turns out Christie’s favourite parts are the extra footage that people ended up recording from home, the instructional skills and workshops that are being released between episodes. “I think this really rounds us out to catch the vibe of what Snowdance is, as it really is so much more than a music festival, it’s also a festival of winter, and such a huge part of it is where it’s located, at a funny little ski hill hidden in the woods of the Whiteshell,” Christie says.
In the spirit of Snowdance, the festival showcases the talent present in the community, “a showcase of the incredible community of talent involved in our funny little ski hill. All the musicians that make up the Snowdance at home have connections to the hill, whether that be as having played at Snowdance before, having been supporters of the festival and the ski hill, or literally currently working at the resort (Sheena and Daniel of Red Moon Road, Joe Madden, Kenzie Jane and Dana Lee are all currently working at the hill!). They were all our first choices and we were delighted that they could be a part of it!” Christie says.