Amber Funk Barton. Photo by Chris Barton.
Amber Funk Barton. Photo by Chris Barton.

During this time of social distancing and dark theatres, Vancouver Presents continues to check in with members of our arts community to find out how they are staying creative and managing during the pandemic.

Today we check in with Vancouver-based dance artist and founder of the response, Amber Funk Barton.

Amber was most recently the co-curator, along with Kaia Shukin, of Dance Café at this year’s Dancing on the Edge Festival of Contemporary Dance. You can catch a replay of the curated dance performances on the response Instagram page.

1. How are you staying creative during the pandemic?

I love to write, so this time has been great to get back to some writing projects I’ve shelved. I haven’t put too much pressure on myself to be creative during this time, because I find the sheer act of transferring what I do, from teaching to creating and/or rehearsing dance to an online platform, has forced me to stay creative just by agreeing to participate.     

2. What’s the one thing getting you through?

My husband and my dog. I know that’s two, but it’s a packaged deal.

3. How are you staying in contact with family and friends who are not in your bubble?

I try to send texts or messages to people to check-in. This has led to some great phone and video chats. I’m pretty Zoomed out, so I’ve been enjoying phone conversations again.

4. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far during the pandemic?

Every day there is something to be grateful for.

5. What do you feel the most grateful for right now?

My health.

6. What is something you are doing now that you don’t normally?

Buying way more groceries at Costco.

7. What skill have you developed since the pandemic started?

Not sure if I’ve required a or any specific skills, but I want to believe I’ll be more proficient in French by the end of this year.

8. What have you missed the most?

Hugs.

9. Your #1 pandemic survival tip.

Try to laugh every day.

10. Your biggest indulgence since the pandemic started.

My weekly bottle of wine.

11. What have you stockpiled?

I did jump on the bandwagon with the whole toilet paper thing in the beginning, but that has definitely died down. I wouldn’t say I necessarily stockpile hand sanitizer, but I will say when I’m out and about, I take every opportunity for a free helping of it if it’s offered and/or available in a store.

12. What have you been reading?

The Stand by Stephen King. I recently re-read two of my favourite books, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey and Dry by Augusten Burroughs. The next book on my list is The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson, which has been leant to me by one of my dearest friends. I also got really obsessed (again) with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo there for a minute or two.

13. What have you been watching?

I am currently balancing a binge-watch rotation of FriendsModern Family and Downton Abbey.

14. What have you been listening to?

IDLES, The Strokes, the new album Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple, Grass Skirt, Interpol and some specific songs have been on a bit of rotation on my current playlist: This Is America (Childish Gambino), All Apologies (Nirvana), Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones), Killing in the Name (Rage Against the Machine), Cranes in the Sky (Salonge), Chanel (Frank Ocean)…I could go on, but I’ll stop it there!

15. What are you doing for exercise?

Teaching Dance. Yoga. And taking walks.

16. The one thing you haven’t been able to live without?

I need my hot bath at the end of the day. And I recognize that this is a luxury that I am grateful for!

17. Do-it-yourself haircut or the natural look?

Natural, baby!

18. Night owl or early riser?

An early riser, for sure.

19. Will you be the first out as restrictions are gradually lifted or taking a wait-and-see attitude?

Oh, I am all about the wait-and-see. I plan to cautiously wade back into the water.

20. What’s the first thing you will do when this is all over?

Get ready for ten-minute hugs, everyone!

Meet Amber Funk Barton

Amber Funk Barton is a contemporary dance artist who was born, raised and lives on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. She has been a professional dance artist for 19 years, and in 2008, she founded her own contemporary dance company, the response.

Amber lives in Gastown with her husband and her dog, Hope. The past couple of months, she has enjoyed becoming reacquainted with her curly hair and is currently suffering an addiction to signing up for e-newsletters.

You can find out more about Amber and the response online at responsedance.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.