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From mid-March into early April, dance communities around the world experienced a seismic shift as performance seasons were cancelled, training programs were suspended and physical contact outside one's home was mandated unsafe. As dancers, we are taught to problem solve in real-time, so it came as no surprise when streamed performances and classes began popping up almost immediately. Dance Magazine asked six voices from our national dance community to share their thoughts regarding the swift distribution of online content. What are the implications of sharing our art form for a fee versus free, especially during a time when dancer are struggling financially?

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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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"We have to decide between taking any work that pays the bills or living on a shoestring budget to dedicate our whole focus towards our next dream job," writes Barry Kerollis about his transition out of performing. Photo by Eduardo Patino, Courtesy Kerollis

Having begun my dance career in my late teens, I successfully bypassed the student debt many Americans face when they take out loans for college. For seven seasons, I had a cushy job dancing in the corps at Pacific Northwest Ballet. During that time I put nearly $50,000 towards my 401(k), saved an additional $10,000 in my bank account and used a dancer-run grant program to fund my associate of arts degree with a business focus from a local community college. I was proud of my fiscal responsibility and felt that I could easily survive a financial shortfall. But I had no idea how much debt I would accrue as I transitioned from performing to teaching and choreographing.

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Kerollis and students in his eight-week Absolute Beginner Workshop at Broadway Dance Center

When most people think of dance students, they imagine lithe children and teenagers waltzing around classrooms with their legs lifted to their ears. It doesn't often cross our minds that dance training can involve an older woman trying to build strength in her body to ward off balance issues, or a middle-aged man who didn't have the confidence to take a dance class as a boy for fear of bullying.

Anybody can begin to learn dance at any age. But it takes a particular type of teacher to share our art form with dancers who have few prospects beyond fun and fitness a few nights a week.

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