YAMATO- the Drummers of Japan perform in Stewart Theatre on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. The program highlighted on the importance of the energy exchange between the drummers and the audience.

NC State LIVE, much like the five other arts programs that make up Arts NC State, has been forced to shift the way it serves students and the community in response to COVID-19 and the inability to host in-person events. Known as the professional performing arts presenter, NC State LIVE is responsible for bringing artists from all over the world to campus to not only perform but to facilitate conversations about dance, music, theatre and other arts.

While past performances would take place in Stewart or Titmus Theater, NC State LIVE has shifted to holding a majority of the events virtually. That being said, Liza Wade Green, associate director of NC State LIVE, said there is still lots to be excited about. 

“This semester, we have some really amazing dance companies coming virtually, one is Ballet Hispánico, so we will be doing a few events with them,” Green said.

Presently online, NC State LIVE advertises a performance by the American Spiritual Ensemble, followed by a conversation with ensemble director Everett McCorvey on Jan. 27 via Zoom. They are also hosting Ephrat Asherie and Ballet Hispánico, and each group is hosting a dance class and conversations with choreographers. Stephanie Clark, program coordinator for NC State LIVE, said while these events are a little different from their previous programming, the opportunity to speak with artists in this manner is so unique.

“For about 60 to 70% of our shows we are able to do a pre-show discussion beforehand, but because the artists are on stage, rehearsing, doing sound check and everything like that, we don’t always have the opportunity to really have a real sit down conversation,” Clark said. “So to have these 60 to 70 minute long in-depth conversations with them about what’s going on in their life, what they are working on, is so exciting.”

Additionally, NC State LIVE is working with local artists Shauna Tucker and Culture Mill as part of a social justice residency, Director of NC State LIVE Sharon Moore explained.

“Our intent was to identify a local artist of color to address the reckoning this country is trying to go through with social injustice and to enable and empower their voices to help us re-imagine a world we want to live in that is just and fair to all,” Moore said. “This is through dance and through music, so Shauna is a composer, cellist, activist, educator, brilliant musician, and then Culture Mill is very much a collective of artists working out of this area of restorative justice and just figuring out ways we can engage in healthier ways with each other.”

Moore, Clark and Green all added that all the artists were initially supposed to visit NC State in person before the pandemic but said all of the artists and groups performing this year virtually will hopefully be returning in person in 2022, COVID-19 protocol permitting.

Moore said that, much like last semester, NC State LIVE will continue to host pop-up performances unannounced across campus, in an attempt to continue spreading little bits of joy about campus. 

While most of NC State LIVE’S current events are virtual, Moore said she hopes the spring weather will allow for more outside events. One event she is particularly excited about and hopeful to be able to continue is the Live at Lake Raleigh concert series, which is set to take place in April and May on the shores of Lake Raleigh on Centennial Campus.

“If the situation allows and the restrictions allow and it’s safe, we may try to still do those with little circles on the lawn where people have their own little bubble they can sit in and keep it socially distanced,” Moore said. “If we can’t have them in person, we will just shift them to a drive-in concert like we had in the fall.”

Green said she particularly enjoyed the drive-in because it was one of the only big in-person events NC State LIVE was able to host that semester that was able to generate an atmosphere. She said hearing the car horns fill the air was the closest thing to applause she had felt in a long time. 

For anyone interested in attending these events, all of NC State LIVE’s programming is free this year. To register, visit their website.