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As state governments begin to ease shelter-at-home restrictions and studios slowly start to reopen their doors, dancers likely are experiencing a mix of emotions: There's excitement about returning to your artistic home and reuniting with your fellow dancers, but also nerves and anxiety about the potential safety risks.

In preparation for the gradual reopening of dance spaces, Dance/USA's Task Force on Dancer Health has released a detailed informational paper, "Return to Dancing and Training Considerations Due to COVID-19," authored by Heather Southwick, PT, MSPT, Selina Shah, MD, FACP, FAMSSM, and Kathleen Bower, PT, DPT, and a companion set of FAQs, written by the same group, along with Kathleen Davenport, MD. Though both resources offer guidance for studio owners and companies, there are also several helpful tips for individual dancers.

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Q: Balancing school and competitive dance can be very challenging for dancers, especially in high school. How can I help my dancers manage their stress?
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Q: How do you approach a K–12 class when one of your students has a disability?
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Courtesy Discount Dance Supply

Hopefully, a regular routine of living room relevés is keeping your pointework alive during the social distancing era. Now there's one more thing you can do from home: get fitted for pointe shoes. But should you forgo an in-person fitting?

Discount Dance Supply started planning its Virtual Pointe Fitting program about six months ago, long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. "Initially, the idea was to target dancers who didn't have access to either a store in their area that carried a wide variety of pointe shoes or quality and trained fitters," says fit specialist Greer Yarborough, who helped develop the program. They're not totally alone: Canada's National Ballet School's Shoe Room also has virtual fittings, and brands like Gaynor Minden offer detailed questionnaires.

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Kira Blazek Ziaii (right). Photo by Raunak Kapoor, courtesy of UNSCSA

In a contemporary dance class at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, instructor Kira Blazek Ziaii gives a stationary exercise inspired by Countertechnique, the movement system developed by Anouk van Dijk. By directing parts of the body away from each other in space, dancers learn to work with an ever-changing dynamic balance. To begin, Ziaii asks her students to shift their attention to different areas of their bodies, like jaws and armpits. "It can be illuminating for people to take their mental awareness to those places," says Ziaii. "It may also be helpful bridging the gap to coordination."

Some dancers naturally have a good sense of how to move smoothly and efficiently, while others need help organizing their bodies and connecting movements. Improving coordination can be slow, methodical work that requires a great deal of patience and technique. But giving students both intellectual and physical tools will help them develop a well-rounded approach to movement and dance more cohesively.

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