The situation caused by the coronavirus epidemic has serious consequences for many sectors, including dance. Toni, choreographer, runs an arts center. Like thousands of Belgians, he can no longer exercise his profession. A difficult ordeal that he tells us about.
Toni Naso is the founder and artistic director of Wizart, a young non-profit organization that creates dance shows and clips. This ambitious project brings together 40 amateur dancers. But since the start of the coronavirus epidemic in Belgium, the artistic center has produced almost nothing because of health measures. “The health crisis is hurting him more and more financially and emotionally“, says Mégane, a friend of Toni, via the orange button Alert us. So we contacted the artist to find out more.
© Toni Naso
The 36-year-old man, passionate about dance, launched his concept a year and a half ago. Wizart was born in Braine-le-Château, just 6 months before the epidemic hit Belgium. Toni tells us that the beginnings went well. The young association had produced 8 clips and 2 shows. “But Covid has landed and Covid has turned everything upside down “, launches its disappointed founder. “For several months, we haven’t been able to do anything“, he continues with a tight throat.
The resident of Forest fought for years to make his dream come true. It was therefore with a heavy heart that he had to stop his project in May 2020. The center was able to reopen in the summer, following a relaxation of measures, but new restrictions linked to the epidemic forced it to close its operations. doors again. An unbearable situation for Toni.
I wanted to break the codes
He tells us that, thanks to Wizart, he allows people who are not professional dancers to express themselves through dance. “Normally, they wouldn’t be able to have this opportunity. I wanted to break the codes. IThere is everything in my students … teachers, nurses, lawyers, etc.“, specifies the choreographer passionate about modern jazz, before adding:”I’m not here to teach them to dance but to free themselves, to gain self-confidence“.
But the 30-something says he has fears about his students because, he says, they get used to other things over time. “It’s the big panic“, for the dancer.”I feel like the future is dead“, loose Toni, worried about the future of his center.
© Toni Naso
“I completely lose my motivation”
The current situation has put him in financial difficulty. He invested everything he had in his center. The man, who does not have artist status, tried to find a job to get by, but without success because the possibilities of retraining are “limited at the moment“, he laments.
“I am told to find work, but with the current situation, people no longer want to teach others. They want people who know the business. We don’t have time to teach you a trade, so we move on to someone else (…) so it doesn’t work. Suddenly, we tighten our belts and we make sure to hold on as much as possible“, continues the founder of Wizart.
The Brussels resident explains to us that he had no other choice than to appeal to the CPAS. And without that help, he couldn’t get by. “It was my last spare tire (…) it’s very complicated for me, I don’t know what to do at all. I keep hope, but I completely lose my motivation. Will there be a possible reopening one day?“, Toni worries.
Fixed costs to be honored
Another concern is added to those he already has … Instead of being reimbursed when Wizart had to close, Toni’s students received vouchers. They will be able to use them as soon as the center reopens. “Last year, they did not get all the lessons. I had to find solutions, because I did not know how to reimburse these people because of the fees“, he specifies.
Toni will therefore have to give these lessons without touching anything because despite the closure, he had to honor the fixed costs, such as the rental of the dance hall. “I find myself facing this situation. What do I do? At the reopening, in addition to the rent of the room, I have to give ‘free’ lessons because these people have already paid“About thirty students are concerned.
To get by, the artist tried to find solutions to get money into the coffers. He set up dance and makeup workshops so that the vouchers can be used. But since then, health measures have been strengthened and his workshops have had to be canceled.
A cry for help
“From October to December, I spent my time crying. I had a big depression“, says the Forestois.
He wanted to express what he feels through art. He made a music video in which he dances alone. Filming took place at the North Sea in December. “I wanted to express my sadness and dismay at this situation“, confides the artist.
Toni has the impression that there is no prospect of the future for him who has “bet all his life on the artistic“. “I can go in the middle of the street, shout and get my message across, but who is going to hear me? “, he wrote to express his distress.
“For me, art is above all the expression that allows us to see the world in a different way, which allows us to live it, to feel it, which allows us to come together, which allows us to be free, which engenders this human and creative emulation that I love so much.
Yet today we have to experience the world differently.
Today our freedom to create is severely affected. Today, I miss art as a meeting place where human humanity awakens.
But today, I want to tell you that I am staying strong. Today I am limited but I still have my freedom, my creativity, the one that is above all inside me. It hurts but I stay standing …“