5 Ways to Help Dance during the Coronavirus
Last week I read a wonderful article in Dance Magazine about how we can radically change the dance industry post coronavirus. I definitely recommend it. It talks about the changes we need in the dance field because the system doesn’t leave enough room for diversity or for honoring inclusion. I am so in love with this article because I completely agree.The truth is, the dance industry doesn’t work for a lot of people. Click To Tweet
Who wants to go “back to normal” anyway? Not me.
First of all, most of us in the contemporary dance industry aren’t the type of folks who want to lead a “normal” life anyway. Meaning, most importantly, that we don’t want a 9-5 work day and we prioritize human expression over product output. So let’s get to our roots and remember that. We are in a career and industry that is unstable and unbalanced, but we are in it for the love of the craft.
We’ve been in the hierarchy of the dance system for too long though. We are dependent on individual donors… The cost around dance training is unrealistic for most… Our concept of “beauty” can still be outdated… And the funneling of money makes dancers dependent on scraps because we fight for the same-ol’ grants or auditions year after year. The list goes on and on. And, to be fair, it’s not all bad! It just…needs some improvements.
How do you dismantle a structure that you are so used to working in?
There is a lot to unpack. And if we ever had a time to reflect on our needs, it’s now, in the midst of the coronavirus. So, I suggest we start small.
How can we help change the dance industry for the better?
My fundamental truth is that if we can really listen, share and show up for one another, then we can make this community stronger. So…
1. Keep teaching and participating in classes online after the coronavirus subsides
How powerful is it that you can take class online with someone from across the world? Or with a teacher you normally don’t have access to? If there is one good thing I’m seeing in the dance community right now, it’s that everyone can access classes — and that means all types of bodies and abilities. Some folks don’t feel comfortable or welcome in the dance studio and this is an incredible way to open the door. I suggest that even when we can get back in the studio, we keep an option open for anyone that wants to take class from home. Everyone learns differently, and this is one safe and accessible way for people to stay engaged. Don’t close the door on them. Keep those online portals open!
2. Each one teach one
Let’s hold each other accountable. Reach out to a friend in the industry and start a dialogue around what works for you and what doesn’t. Ask what works for them. What doesn’t work for them? What do you see that you like? What don’t you like? Really listen to one another. If it feels like too much to talk to someone else right now, then start journaling. When we start voicing our needs and listening to the needs of others, we get stronger… Change becomes human, not abstract. We may stumble. We may not use the right terms. We may feel small at first. We might have crappy ideas. But we try and we keep trying.
3. Get involved with your local community. Offer up your skills.
Decisions around your community and funding can start at a grassroots level but you have to show up. Go to town-halls or participate in webinars. Just listen if you have to at first. See what’s going on around your community. This way you will start to see voids that can be filled – and maybe with your own work! Whatever it is, take some time to get involved. This might mean teaching for your local senior center (my personal fav!) or joining a parent or student group to offer one-on-one dance classes. You never know who you will meet and what kind of interesting collaborations can come out of it. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Dancers are incredibly resourceful, creative, and intelligent. You have more than you realize, and you and your work deserve to be out there.
4. Challenge your comfort zone
First, get used to being present with yourself. Silence and stillness can make a lot of us squirmy, but sometimes it’s better to spend time alone than to constantly fill our minds with outside information. It’s only through knowing ourselves that we can start to show up for others. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Second, when something makes you uncomfortable I want you to ask yourself why. Why is it so bad or why do you feel a certain way towards something or someone? We get a lot of crap sold to us in the media and in our surroundings about “what society should look like”. So, challenge your notions of security and open your eyes to different views. Different life paths. Different backgrounds. Different abilities. Different realities. When we walk in someone else’s shoes it makes us more compassionate and more present. Choose courage over comfort.
5. Raise awareness
I’ll make this short and sweet. With social media, it’s easier than ever to share ideas and projects. It doesn’t take much to hit that share button and get your friend’s work, or a good cause, out into the world. I promise it won’t take away from your good work. If anything, it will help it.
Want more thoughts on dance post coronavirus? Back on Day 6 of lockdown in Italy, I wrote this article with a note to freelancers and artists.
Like what I have to say? Please share it. Have some thoughts? Drop a comment below. This is an ongoing conversation and I’d love to hear what you have to say!