Dancing During Covid-19, Part 1
How do dancers dance in isolation? Or perform? What about new choreography?
I interviewed several dancers from Young Dance, a Minnesota-based dance company, a unique dance company. Dancers audition. Dancers are of all-abilities and all ages. These dancers are amazing. Their movements are strong, beautiful, and surprising. Young Dance performances create magic, a connection with the audience, a connection that creates joy, laughter and a sense of awe and wonder.
But what happens when a dancer—of any ability—must “work from home” and dance in isolation? One young dancer, Lexi, expressed these thoughts: “I miss seeing fellow dancers. I miss the excitement of rehearsals and performances. I miss the celebration together after a rehearsal or performance. Being home, separate from other dancers, feels empty.”
These dancers did not give up. They began thinking of ways to practice, to continue learning, and even how to perform. “We figured out Zoom.”
Classes resumed—online—a way to bring everyone together. One challenge—space. Individual dancers had to find space to move. That was a challenge to many. Lexi rearranged “stuff” in the basement and made space for exploring movement, for dancing. Ava moved furniture and danced between the kitchen and the living room, sometimes with her dog running in-between her legs, sometimes with her sister’s guinea pig, hamster, and white rats squealing.
Another challenge, having to incorporate the strong external visual component of zoom to an art form—dance—that depends on auditory and proprioception, the internal sensations of movement. One great distraction is seeing oneself on the computer screen. Dance is not about seeing oneself, instead, dancing is multi-sensory—it is about feeling internal changes of movement and space—while incorporating these sensations with sound (tone, rhythm) and with the movements of other dancers.
One other important challenge to the dancers, teachers, musicians, and choreographers has been maintaining the sense of community. One can move aside furniture and still dance. But how does one connect with fellow dancers? Especially how does one continue to create new choreography with other dancers?
I could not imagine how until I watched Young Dance’s year-end performance—Spring Round-Up. Amazing. Video clips from that performance will be part of each of the next several posts. Meanwhile, to everyone, keep dancing your dreams. You will find a way.
I encourage you to read I Will Dance, the story of Eva, a young girl with a wish to dance and a challenge to achieving that dream. I Will Dance is written by Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Julianna Swaney, and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.