Dancers are resilient by nature. As our community responds to COVID-19, that spirit is being tested. Dance Teacher acknowledges the tremendous challenges you face for your teaching practice and for your schools as you bring your offerings online, and the resulting financial impact on your businesses.
Perhaps we can take hope from the knowledge of how we’ve managed adversity in the past. I’m thinking of the dance community in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I’m thinking of 9/11 and how that changed the world. I’m thinking of the courageous Jarrah Myles who kept her students safe when the Paradise wildfire destroyed their homes. I’m thinking of Jana Monson who rebuilt her studio after a devastating fire. I’m thinking of Gina Gibney who stepped in to save space for dance in New York City when the beloved Dance New Amsterdam closed.
And there are so many more examples of how we’ve not only survived adversity, but made things better as a result. Yes, the current situation is different because it is so widespread and we are very much in the middle of so many unknowns. COVID-19 impacts us all. I believe we can take heart that our natural dancer resiliency, creativity and passion will also get us through this—together.
In that spirit, here are five points of light for today: examples of the dance community at its most resilient best.
1. From Colorado, The Colorado Ballet reports that, though they cancelled the remaining four weeks of their performance season, they are paying the company and orchestra through the full term of their contracts—April 12. To help with the financial impact, many patrons turned their tickets into donations. The organization is also paying salaries for the school’s teaching staff through April 6.
2. From Wisconsin, Misty Lown tells us her studio is, as of this week, the site of a day-care center for 50 children. When the governor announced day-care centers in the state were limited to 50, the center that rents Lown’s former studio building was faced with turning away half of its families. Lown stepped in and offered her current studio (which is currently in shutdown) free of rent.
3. From Washington, DC, Joy of Motion Dance Center, with 3 studios and 262 classes per week, shares that they are launching their Online Learning Library for dance education. We’ll have more about this soon!
4. From New York, Parsons Dance, despite having to postpone their annual gala and cancel the spring touring dates, announced a commitment to continue paying both dancers and staff and is moving forward with plans for its summer intensive. This small company of eight dancers has been known for its scrappy, entrepreneurial spirit since 1985. “We will dance for you when we can,” writes founder David Parsons and executive director Rebecca Josue in an e-mail to their community.
5. Every day we hear of teachers offering free video classes and live sessions on Instagram and Facebook, including Alicia Graf Mack via @JuilliardSchool. Thank you for your generosity.
I’m sure there are other positive examples that we can look to for inspiration. Please let me know where you’re finding the light, and I will share your stories here. Stay safe, be smart and keep dancing. [email protected]