The music drifts in and throughout the theater, pointe shoes scrape against the stage. Intricate skirts swirl as the dancers chaȋne across the floor, masks matching the bright colors. It seems to be that this is the new normal for dancers all over the world.
At the beginning of 2020, a normal day of ballet looked drastically different. For iUniversity Freshman Nathan Travis, dance would start by “getting to the studio thirty minutes early and socializing with everyone. There were around thirteen people in the class and usually everyone showed up, no masks.” Ballet before Covid looked similar for iUniversity Sophomore Emily Demotte. Her day began with “Class from 1:00-4:00, break, class from 6:30-9:30 Mon-Thurs, Jazz or day off on Friday, class 1-3 on Saturday and rehearsals until 6.”
However, this virus has caused the world to turn upside down and force us to redefine the word “normal.” At the beginning of quarantine, many studios held classes on Zoom, a video connection platform. While it was originally used for webinars and video conferencing, Zoom has been used to continue dancing from the safety of one’s home. “At the beginning of Covid everyone was on Zoom,” Nathan says. “It was weird. He wasn’t able to explain concepts as in-depth as our teacher normally gets, he’s Russian so his accent was hard to understand over Zoom.” Nathan isn’t the only one who experienced ballet via Zoom. Emily says that “We did zoom ballet from March-August (the studio opened again in June but I didn’t go back until August) and it was definitely difficult to dance in such a small space. With the space I had, I was only really able to do barre, so I missed being able to move a lot. Zoom ballet is definitely not the same and was challenging mentally to have the motivation for it.” iUniversity student Jessica Gabrillo agrees with Emily, saying that also “A lot more people asked questions since it was harder to pick up movement.”
Now, most studios have brought dancing back into the studio, but it looks much different than we could have ever imagined. “A normal day at dance in person is with masks, about 3-5 people per class, social distancing, and we aren’t allowed to get there earlier like we were,” Nathan says. Emily has had a similar experience. “[I have the] same schedule now that we are back to the studio, but we wear masks, do temperature checks, use hand sanitizer, and wipe down the barres before class and dance 6 feet apart. During the lockdown when we were on zoom we did zoom from our houses each night, and once we came back into the studio I did in person during the day and zoom at night because there were fewer people during the day.” Jessica Gabrillo says that “Now we have to be sure we’re spread out and don’t touch each other during class.”
However, while this virus has had its downfalls, there have been some unexpected positive outcomes. Emily is happy that “Being at home allowed me to spend more time with my family!” Nathan says that “through dancing in Covid I’ve made some really close relationships with some people I never thought I’d be close with and that’s been really nice.”
Though the word normal has taken on an entirely different meaning in the world of dance, every dancer has discovered just how grateful they are for the studio, the theater, the stage, the pointe shoes, and the costumes.