"Looking In"

Andiamo Dance Company performers, from left, Jess Berto, Grace Jackson, Devyn Sader, Christina Hughes, Lauren Gates, Elizabeth Avila, and Shawna Hofmann rehearse for the upcoming performance "Looking In" on Tuesday at Andiamo Dance Company's studio. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

The Andiamo Dance Company will soon take the stage for its second performance in two years.

The seven-person company first started up in 2019, giving one live performance before the pandemic came to Ketchikan — bringing with it social distancing, masks and a halt on in-person events, including dancing.

But on July 9, the group will perform "Looking In," the second live performance ever debuted by Andiamo Dance Company.

The show will start at 7:30 p.m. in the Ketchikan High School auditorium.

The company features artistic director Jess Berto and dancers Grace Jackson, Shawna Hofmann, Christina Hughes, Elizabeth Avila, Elizabeth Schultz and Devyn Sader.

Berto spoke with the Daily News on Wednesday about the event.

"('Looking In' is) focused on looking within ourselves, what we find when we look within, what we hope to find, what we want to manifest, and then some of the pieces are even very literal — like with the inner workings of your mind, and then feeling all the things and having thoughts and emotions," Berto explained.

The choreography was developed by Berto and Elizabeth Schultz, a former artistic director with Ketchikan Theatre Ballet. The pieces are centered around the idea of "movement created from the feeling itself," Berto said.

There are 11 individual contemporary dance pieces in the performance, plus a four-minute long video that will be projected on the stage. The video was shot by Andiamo Company member Christina Hughes and features Berto dancing solo to Hughes' choreography around Ketchikan.

Preparation for "Looking In" began in February 2020, just a month prior to the arrival of the coronavirus in Ketchikan.

"We started rehearsing some of these pieces last February, thinking we were going to have a show in 2020," Berto recalled. "That obviously didn't happen."

"It was a little bit of a shock," Berto said. "We were just starting to get rolling with everything and get a handle on stuff."

But the group slowly started to prepare for the next time they could perform together, bringing back a few of the pieces that were set to be included in the February performance to their rehearsals this spring.

"When we started, we were trying to learn all the choreography staying socially distanced from each other, and we were wearing masks, which is very difficult to while dancing," Berto recalled. "We are now fully vaccinated and able to dance all in a room together, no masks, and actually come into contact with each other. Which is weird to do after you've not been in each other's bubbles for a long time."

Berto hopes that the audience can find a slice of normalcy by watching the show.

"I want people to step out of the chaos of the world that we have lived in for the past 16 months, and just be able to dive headfirst into what's being presented on stage," Berto said. "And not have to think about everything else that's going on in the world. Just have a moment here, live, to see live dance for probably — for a lot of people — the first time in a very long time. And just be pulled out of life for a second."