The global pandemic has impacted every demographic here in the Northeastern United States. Dance enthusiasts are not excluded from this anti-party. In fact, the lack of a party is what is hurting dancers the most.
If you have forgotten what was awesome about dancing, if you wonder where the excitement went, if your dance identity seems foggy to you, your body has changed, and you find yourself thinking, “I’m just not a dancer anymore,” I have good news for you. “It”, your spark, is not gone. What changed is not you.
The magic of being engaged in a class or show, seeing classmates and friends, and enjoying shows once excited you because those challenges, events, and that community of people were there. This wonderful dance life, welcoming to all, resonated with your personality and your values. Also important to you was the power to witness others’ expressions in dance and lift them up with your appreciation. Do you still enjoy uplifting others? Of course. You are still a member of a community and there are ways you can stay connected even if not in the familiar ways.
Yes, possibly the best thing about dance life, the human exchange of energy, has been slightly hijacked but you can still find it: that magical spark of passion and excitement. It may require a new approach, though. You may even, with some adaptability, use this time of less actual gatherings to nurture your own personal connection to dance, body, skills, and creativity.
I’m excited to share some tips with you that have helped our studio, students, and community. Until the in-person dance lifestyle gatherings are allowed again, give these tips a try and join others who are building exciting new dance connections both within themselves and with others.
Please pass these tips on to your fellow dancers, teachers, community members and even artists in other genres.
1. Online Camaraderie. Many online dance challenges and groups exist to encourage dancing, friend-making, and inspiration. Ancient Art Studios created The Luscious Lounge, for example. This private Facebook group is free to our students and invites members to inspire each other to move at home by sharing vid post 2x a week, 10 second vids or longer, for 6 weeks. No rules. A prize if you post 12 times. Absolutely any kind of dance, to any kind of music, using any approach from drilling, to spiritual, to choreo, improv and just playing, is celebrated. Just move!
2. Seeing artists of all forms creating and sharing online on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook. Catch their energy, hope, and enthusiasm. Doubt your lethargy – it’s not the whole truth. You are an artist and artists often adapt and create new work in tough times. Many are doing great things, not just in spite of, but because of this situation. This is your time.
3. Make better use of your Zoom class. Ask your teacher to spotlight students on Zoom so you see each other’s movement in class. Clap for each other! Seeing others dancing is a huge inspiration. Ask if you can sign in early and dance to pre-class music or chat. Ask if chatting after is ok. Introduce your cat, your mother, your new hip scarf. Show and tell theme anyone? Be sure your teacher opens mics for questions as class goes along. Text questions and post related discoveries in the private Facebook page if there is one. Dress for class, be well lit, encourage your teacher to give you specific help with your interests. How else can you get involved and make your Zoom class better for yourself and others?
4. Discover dancing at home for Health and Mood. Create song cycles (4-6 song sets) for yourself such as:
-a song for raising heart rate (shimmies?),
-a song for sustained gentle movement (veil or chiftitelli and balancing an item?)
-a song for cool down
-a song for stretch
Plan to be sweaty but contented and proud after you dance one song or a whole song cycle for your health and mood.
5. Use the “Just One Song” concept for getting off the couch. This idea introduces fun dance breaks into your life. If you are low on energy, losing your at home dance practice, or just not using your love of dance to enhance your life, choose just one song to play and dance to – no rules, it can be anything. Often, one song leads to another and you remember, “I love dancing and want more dance in my life”!
6. Use the concept of “play” in your dance. Technique alone is not dance. Here’s one of my favorite games to play and it works in conjunction with the “Just one Song” concept: the “Point of Focus” game. With nothing but stress release, fun, personal curiosity, and the joy of creating on your agenda, pull a prompt out of a basket or out of the mind. Put the vid camera on, hit play on the music, then, after dancing, watch the vid. Some unplanned things will happen, for sure. You might even start working on a piece because of the ideas that came to your body and mind as you played with that point of focus.
7. Keep in mind that outdoor venues are coming! It’s cold and snowy now but some outdoor venues are hoping and planning to return with limited seating and they need entertainment. I’m now involved w 2 troupes and a class who are creating numbers and working to have fitness and art ready. Envision yourself sharing dance and being appreciated. It’s a huge leg up to get a call. If nobody calls you, call them! Seek outdoor spaces. Make art in a parking lot with a few friends distanced bringing their own chairs and snacks.
8. Redesign your look. Dance clothing ensembles count. Include crazy things you don’t usually wear such as ripped shirts, belt your waist, long fringes, fishnet hose and short skirts, a high ponytail, adorn yourself in new ways that inspire new movements. Let yourself be inspired.
Stay tuned for part 2. There are additional inspirational ideas cued up. Until then, play with the above tips and be sure to share with others as you nurture your dance self.
You can find and nurture your love of dance! You can return to gatherings with new skills, a new understanding of how you enjoy dance at home, and how much you love moving. You can even nurture relationships and connections in a new way until the favorite old way returns.