Online creative pursuits for May

People are dealing with our current episode of dormancy in different ways. Some are trying out new activities at home, others just like to watch those people who are being creative and providing the entertainment. Whichever category you fall in to, our summary of activities will offer some online inspiration for pursuits to past the time during May – whether you fancy ballet, choral singing, a spot of cooking or a dose of culture, with everything washed down with the cosiest of bedtime stories.

Let’s not be too hard on ourselves if we aren’t feeling inspired right now. Sometimes, it is just nice to sit back and savour the stillness. Watching houseplants thrive and sprout new leaves is one of my highlights of the past week. Discovering videos online as other people get creative has also been entertaining. Whether watching or joining in with these artistic pursuits, here are some of the morsels that have been uncovered that you might like to schedule some time for over the course of this month. See how creative types have been coping with the coronavirus crisis at home – and while we’re at it, we take a bit of a virtual tour across the globe visiting eleven countries, from Canada to South Africa.


balletIn last month’s #stayathome activities, we covered a couple of classical concerts. Now we are sharing classical (and some non-classical) music teamed with dance – ballet to be precise. Dancers are keeping their muscles toned by practicing their pliés and pointes at home, sometimes in the kitchen to be precise – or garden or bathroom.

CA | National Ballet of Canada

Guillaume Côté and Heather Ogden are principal dancers at the National Ballet of Canada – and they also have a partnership outside of work too, as they have known each other since they were 16 and have been married since 2010. Watch the couple take on this homework project with the backing of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

View performance

FR | Paris Opera Ballet

Watch dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet each performing in their own homes to the soundtrack of ‘Dance of the Knights’ by Sergei Prokofiev. This performance is in recognition of those on the frontline. Dancer Chun-wing Lam comments: ‘A few minutes of dancing will never be enough to express our gratitude. Thank you to those who watch over us.’

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NL | Dutch National Ballet

Dancer and choreographer Milena Sidorova created this choreography inspired by the global lockdown due to the coronavirus. Together with the other dancers from Dutch National Ballet, she presents her choreography ‘Hold on’ to the song from the Dutch band Di-rect. And if your toes are itching to get moving, why not try some ballet classes from home yourself? Head here to find out more.

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There is nothing more powerful and uplifting than a choir of voices singing in unison. During this crisis, choral singers across the world have been unable to meet in person – but that hasn’t silenced their voices. Here, we share three recordings of lockdown choirs – one of which includes some truly global harmonies.


AU | Couch Choir

Over 6000 strangers from 45 countries submitted a video in three days to sing one song (‘Heroes’ by David Bowie). ‘It’s dedicated to all the frontline heroes who are keeping us safe,’ comment the organising team members who are located in Australia and ordinarily are called the Pub Choir. More projects are planned and anyone in the world is invited to join in (see here).

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LV | Mixed Choir Juventus

The student choir of University of Latvia based in Riga is the oldest in the country and was established in 1920. To mark its 100th anniversary, members of the choir sang the track ‘Mans zirgs’ (M. Šverns) while social distancing at home. Even though they are all separated, creating this song brought them much closer even than the weekly rehearsals.

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SA | Anthem Challenge RSA

As South Africa went into lockdown, over 50 performers encouraged the nation to do something powerful: ‘To reflect on the lyrics of our anthem, as a source of inspiration and optimism, and to bravely sing it out loud.’ The result of over 1000 South Africans coming together, virtually to celebrate unity and diversity, through a song that represents freedom.

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Whether you have been raiding your cupboards for that long lost forgotten bag of flour so you can give pasta-making a go or you’ve been keeping to your old trusted recipes, there has been a wealth of creativity in the kitchen going on.

cooking cabbageBE | Green Food Stories

Sofie Claes is a whizz with creating delicious recipes. During lockdown, she has teamed up with storyteller Han Zinzen for a green project via the website Jack Stories. Together, they share plant-based recipes mixed with short stories for healthy food, body and mind. Perfect recipes for relaxing home cooking sessions.

View recipes and stories

DK | Noma

Rene Redzepi is the chef and owner of the world-famous restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. With years of experimental fine dining experience, his Instragram feed has a multitude of food stories and recipes for you to explore. He hasn’t been doing cook-along videos during lockdown but he does post delicious recipes from time to time – and sometimes it is not food related (the latest one is for a not-very-complicated cocktail!).

View mouthwatering morsels

IT | Kitchen Quarantine

Massimo Bottura, chef and owner of the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, has been taking to Instagram during lockdown and broadcasting live cooking classes from his kitchen. He is also the co-founder of Food for Soul, an organisation that fights food waste through social inclusion. His #KitchenQuarantine Instagram cooking show targets food waste during Italy’s lockdown. Read more here.

Join a cooking workshop


theatreGetting our dose of culture online these days is our new norm. With theatres closed, teams of actors and directors have moved into the digital realm, with performances popping up online via intriguing and inspiring collaborative projects.

IE | Dear Ireland

A new production by Dublin’s Abbey Theatre delivers a national conversation during the lockdown led by Ireland’s artists 50 writers and 50 actors. Invited to write a postcard home, social distancing has created this unique opportunity to hear and share Ireland’s artistic voice. It was aired nightly in the last week of April and the candid performances will be available online for a limited time during May. More details here.

View performances

UK | National Theatre at Home

The curtains may be down right now but the shows are, digitally at least, still going on. The UK’s National Theatre is making a number of performances, previously screen exclusively in cinemas, available via its YouTube channel. The first production of May to be made available as part of ‘National Theatre at Home’ initiative was a new play by Nick Dear (based on the Frankenstein novel by Mary Shelley) starring Jonny Lee Miller as the creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein.

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Keeping a diary to document our activities during this strange stay-at-home period can be a necessity as we juggle everything and try to categorise our time. It can also be therapeutic.

NL | Momentum

The team behind Amsterdam-based magazine Subbacultcha conjured up a creative project where people are invited to documenting life during quarantine. The website states: ‘Time seems to move different these days. Does it creep by slower or faster than it did before? Is it moving more fragmented or continuously? One thing is for sure; time is changing because times are changing.’ It is like a diary, in visual format: 24 days, 24 photos, on sequential hours.

Find out more

UK | Writes of Spring

During these days, it is hard not to notice that nature is blooming. If you have ever fancied keeping a spring diary, now could be the perfect opportunity to start documenting what you see by jotting it down. A UK project invited the public to capture the first day of spring by writing about it. Although, this venture is now closed to entries, you can see the completed works online. This could be just the inspiration you need to formulate your own fascinations with the nature that is flourishing this time of year and put it into words.

Get inspired


After watching and reading about all those creative people and projects, perhaps now you would just like to settle down and listen to a good story. Here we have the tips for the younger members of our audience – though being read a bedtime story is a pastime that can be enjoyed by all ages. Below are two inspiring tales, both read by British blokes called Tom.


UK | The Great Realisation

Who knew that this strange world we are currently living in could be transformed into a modern-day fairytale? Tom Roberts, from London, who works in the film industry, wrote The Great Realisation. It is a poem full of optimism on the future of the world post COVID-19. See more of Tom’s work on the Probably Tom Foolery channel on YouTube.

Watch and listen

UK | Under the Same Sky

Across the globe during these weeks, families have been letting the actor Tom Hardy put their kids to bed – or more correctly, he has been reading them bedtime stories via the online platform of the BBC children’s TV channel CBeebies. Hardy first appeared on its ‘Bedtime Stories’ slot in 2016 and returned to the role from the end of April for what is called ‘Tom Week’. We share the edition in which he reads from Under the Same Sky by Robert Vescio and Nicky Johnston, and he signs off with the quote listed below.

Watch and listen

No matter where your loved ones are tonight, we all of us sleep under the same sky

Carmel McNamara