On March 13, Katherine Disenhof and her NW Dance Project peers were shocked to learn that their company was shutting down for (an optimistic) two weeks, which soon became an indefinite furlough.
Shortly after walking away from the studio, Disenhof noticed virtual dance classes beginning to pop up on her social-media feed. "I realized this pandemic is a shared, global experience," Disenhof says. "I saw dance as a unifying force that would keep people together."
That's when inspiration struck to bring virtual dance resources to one central place, and Dancing Alone Together was born. The initiative includes a website that curates virtual-class postings from around the world (about 30 per day) that users can search by time or genre. The site also offers dancemaking prompts and opportunities to watch performances online. The best classes of the day are posted on the Dancing Alone Together Instagram, which has 36,700 followers and counting.
"I had no idea what this would become," Disenhof says. "At first I wanted this to only last as long as quarantine, but over time I've realized that everyone will have to rework how they operate. I plan to do this as long as it's sustainable."
Her current class focus:
"Maintenance, and feeling grounded and normal in a time that is really unhinging. I haven't been taking class super frequently. Striving to keep my body ready for eight-hour rehearsal days isn't practical right now, and it's setting myself up to fail. There's no start date, so I'm trying to be mindful of taking class for me and what my body needs."
Her most helpful correction:
"During both my ballet and college training, I had a problem with looking down. Honestly, I probably still do it sometimes. Teachers who corrected me on this gave me more than just a physical correction, but an emotional and mental one as well. I was pretty shy and didn't have a lot of confidence. I looked down to divert others' gaze from me. Once I realized the power of looking up, it changed me as a dancer."
Her dance education turning point:
"A two-week intensive with Nederlands Dans Theater. I was the only one there who wasn't from either a professional company or a conservatory. I felt a little out of place, but it was also empowering to realize I had made it there despite having a different background. Being among those dancers made me feel like I really could do this professionally. I took my first Gaga class and learned rep that was different than anything I had done before. Something clicked, and I realized there was so much more that I could pursue in dance."
Her most influential teacher:
"Alonzo King. He is a really amazing and loving artist. Anyone can learn from him—dancer or not. It wasn't about the technical training that I got from him, but the growth as a person. I keep learning from him every time I hear him speak."