Dancing Out of the Darkness


I don’t know about anyone else, but there’s been a lot of times over the past 4 months that it’s seemed like we’re in a dark tunnel. From quarantine to murder hornets, 2020 has thrown an awful lot at us, and while there’s definitely been bright spots (umm, pajamas 24/7? yes please), there’s also been a lot of doom and gloom.

Even as we move through the phases towards a “new normal” (anyone else HATE that phrase or is it just me?), there is a lot of uncertainty. Parents are making tough choices about whether or not kids should return to school in the fall, and there’s a lot to consider as everyone tries to balance safety and sanity. While everyone will have a different answer to all these questions, I wanted to share how I see us dancing out of the dark tunnel this fall, and why dance class can be a safe place for our students.

Distance Dancing, Collective Energy

Dance class has an advantage over a lot of sports in that dancers don’t need to be in contact with one another. Yes, we love lifts and partner work as much as the next person, but dance can be creative, beautiful, and moving without those elements. And even if dancers never come within 6 feet of each other, they can still create that collective energy we’ve been missing all these months in quarantine. It’s the energy you feel in yoga class when everyone is breathing together, the energy you can see if you’ve ever watched a group of dancers improvising. No physical contact needed, just music and movement. And that to me, seems like a very bright spot at the end of a dark tunnel!

Formation changes are our middle name

One of the biggest adjustments we’ve all had to make over the past few months has been to the idea of physical distancing. Now, watching old episodes of tv shows where the characters hug or crowd into a cab has us internally screaming “Ahhhh!!!! 6 feet, people!” But honestly, who better to adapt to this than dancers? Spacial awareness? Check. Able to navigate formation changes with precision? Check. And yes, we’ve taped our floors differently, but our dancers are used to hearing “spread out,” “claim your dance space,” or “stand on a number.” I know that it will take some getting used to for sure, but I’m confident that if any activity is well equipped to adapt to this new practice, it’s dance.

The choreography of class

A lot of my time this summer has been spent thinking about how we will choreograph our classes this season. Yes, just like a dance routine, dance class has a beginning, middle, and end, and we can choreograph our way through both. We’ve been rethinking every detail-from how we stay spread out while going across the floor, to how water breaks will happen, and it’s all like a well-choreographed routine. But again, who better to take this on than dance teachers? Transitions are our bread and butter. We eat formation changes for dinner. Again, there’s lot of adjustments to be made, but we got this.

We need to move more than ever.

Nothing is risk free, these days. And while I’d love to say “we’ll just dance outside every day!” the reality of living in New England where it can be 95 degrees one day and snowing the next doesn’t really lend itself to that idea. However, I do think that we can make dance as safe as possible and that our dancers need us more than ever right now. All these emotions and all this weight that we’ve been carrying around, we can express through dance. And unlike some other sports or activities, we CAN dance from home if anyone isn’t ready to get back into the studio. It has its challenges, no doubt, but the number of emails I got this spring saying “little Sally was in such a grumpy mood today until I turned on zoom and she heard Miss Jen’s voice” or “Sally was having a rough day today but doing barre and working up a little bit of a sweat turned the day around” helped us keep pirouette-ing our way through the tunnel. These past few months have been an emotional gauntlet, and dance is one way for us to process and move through those feelings.

I know that things are scary. I know that it’ll take some time to get used to all the changes to our daily routine. But I also know that dancers are creative, strong, and resilient-and that we can do this. And the reward will be having that piece of ourselves back that has to dance, that needs to express ourselves and move. And that will make the “new normal” feel a little bit more like plain old “normal.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *