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The 7 Stages of Dancers Adjusting to Social Distancing

Oh, dance studio, we miss you so. (Getty Images)

We don't want to downplay the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic (please stay safe, everybody). But, because we could all use a chuckle right now: Here's a walk through the feelings dancers have been feeling as we figure out what it means to "dance remotely."


Shock

Shocked cat

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Wait—you're telling me I don't have 5 hours of class and rehearsal every day? Is this…real life?

Denial

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There's no way they'll keep this up for long. Dancers can't work remotely. The show must go on, right?

Guilt

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Why, why, why didn't I go full-out in that last run-through? Who knows when I'll dance that piece again in a space larger than my kitchen?

Anger

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I can't BELIEVE this! Of course it's all happening THIS year, when I had that epic solo in my now-canceled show.

Sadness

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Everything feels gray when I can't get to the studio. I miss my dance friends. I miss my teachers. I'm even starting to miss that dressing-room foot stink.

Reconstruction

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OK. Your technique isn't going to maintain itself. Let's start streaming those online classes. Also: Maybe it's time to become a TikTok star?

Acceptance

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This isn't forever. With the help of the internet (specifically Mark Kanemura), I will survive. And I'm NEVER going to stop dancing—even if it's just in my living room!

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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