Teacher Voices
An alumna of Dance Spectrum in Buffalo (now a nurse in Boston) joins a Zoom class led by her favorite instructor in the hospital break room. Photo courtesy of Dance Spectrum

All that I have ever thought our dance community could be, we have become as we have faced the COVID-19 crisis. Thousands of studio owners and dance teachers are carrying on in any way they can. Kids are continuing to dance—even if it's in their living rooms in front of the TV. Our community has not stopped dancing or spreading the joy that it brings to all.

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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.

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Movement Headquarters Ballet Company in Distinct Perceptions. Liz Schneider-Cohen, Courtesy Barry Kerollis

Resilience. This word has been on my mind a great deal over the past week, and, honestly, I've been quite challenged by it.

I've had my eye on the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of January when news started breaking about a novel virus in Wuhan, China. The world watched as cases multiplied and a faraway city of 11 million went into lockdown. While this situation felt distant, many of us kept a watchful eye simply because we thought this couldn't happen here.

Fast-forward to the week of March 9 in New York City, where life actually started moving in fast-forward. Within a week, Broadway went dark, opera houses across the country were forced to shutter and dance studios started closing down.

As an educator and retired dancer, I felt rocked to my core. Dance artists are resilient. We show up for work sick. We dance through pain. We rehearse when cities shut down for holidays and weather. We survive on meager wages. When one job falls through, we use creative immediacy to develop new opportunities. I have always been extremely proud of the resilient attributes of those who work in the dance field, until last Friday.

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