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Rose Shields

In Our Own Words: Rose Shields, Atlanta performance artist

Rose Shields works in dance and the circus arts, performing and choreographing throughout the Southeast. In 2013, she was profiled as part of ArtsATL’s 30 Under 30 series. She worked with Core Dance for eight years and now works with Atlanta Circus Alliance and Beacon Dance. She believes strongly in the power of live performance. (Photo by Paige McFall)


I worked on choreographing Manifolds for a year-and-a-half and it was supposed to be performed outdoors at Agnes Scott College last March. The Monday of show week, everything was shut down. My fellow dance artists were super stressed and super worried, so we canceled. It was a hard choice, but given the circumstances, I think I made the best decision. Safety was the most important thing. I have rehearsal videos and photos sitting in a vault. That’s it for right now. Thankfully I have not gotten sick with COVID, but half my family has. My sister had autoimmune deficiencies previously. After getting COVID, everything blew up and she is still dealing with a lot of medical issues. 

During the protests last summer, we learned that one solution is to get to know your neighbors. That really struck me. We can help each other, keep tabs on each other and only call the police when absolutely necessary. We started a meet-up every other Thursday night, called Drinks in the Driveway. It’s fun getting to know our neighbors. Sometimes we talk politics and sometimes race relations. It’s been enlightening and has made the lockdown less isolating. 

Once we were sheltered in place I really missed my circus family. I’m passionate about how human bodies can create these big structures, human pyramids, and not being able to do partner work with dance and circus people was the hardest thing for me. I did a lot of jamming out and choreographing in my home, and now I have some ideas in my arsenal.

The theater gives you an ambiance that can’t be created anywhere else. I am looking forward to getting back in the theater, having those fun, fancy lights and amazing sound systems. It’s something I severely missed when we had to watch everything on the computer screen.