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.
Don't rush back.<p>If you've been living in a different city during the shutdown, allow for 14 days of quarantining in isolation after traveling back before you step foot in the studio.</p>
If you have allergies...<p>Though the symptoms of seasonal allergies don't necessarily overlap with those of COVID-19, there is a concern with allergy sufferers being in the studio: Since the virus is spread in <del>the</del> droplets from mucous, you may be asymptomatic and could infect someone else via your sneeze. </p><p>If your allergy symptoms aren't under control, speak with your doctor or allergist about treatment options before returning to dance. </p>
Avoid socializing pre- or post-class.<p>As much as you'll want to catch up with friends that you've missed, avoid hanging around the studio or lounge areas. If another group is using the studio before you, wait outside the building or in your car until the room has been sanitized. </p>
Be prepared for temperature and symptom checks.<p>Prior to entering the studio, a staff member may take your temperature via a no-touch thermometer. You should also be prepared to answer questions about how you're feeling, if you're experiencing any COVID-19–related symptoms or have been exposed to anyone who has tested positive.</p><p>If your temperature is above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, you should return home, watch for any symptoms and consult your doctor. </p>
If you can, skip the dressing room.<p>Close quarters like dressing rooms—which likely don't allow for much social distancing—should be avoided, if possible, to limit your proximity with other dancers. Consider arriving for class with your dancewear under your street clothes. Your facility may tape out individual areas for dancers to leave their belongings. </p>
Maintain social distance—and then some.<p>At first, studios will likely limit the number of dancers at a time. Be prepared to take class or rehearse with smaller groups. If possible, keep 10 feet—instead of the usual 6—between yourself and other dancers. According to the Task Force's paper, some research indicates that breathing during exercise can carry COVID-19 further than regular activity.</p>
Bring multiple masks.<p>While it may be uncomfortable at first, you should wear a mask the entire time you're in the studio. Dial down the intensity of your dancing if you're feeling short of breath, lightheaded or dizzy, but know that your body will adjust to exercising with a mask over time. </p><p>If your mask becomes wet from sweat or heavy breathing, change it out for a clean, dry mask. </p>
Wash your hands or use sanitizer frequently.<p>At this point, it goes without saying, but wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after spending time in the studio. If the studio is running short on sanitizer, bring your own. (Your studio should be sanitizing touch points, like doorknobs and barres, and floors between classes.) </p>
Know that class will be different.<p>Hands-on corrections, partnering and floorwork are not recommended at this time. In early phases of reopening, the Task Force also recommends against especially dynamic sequences with large movements or combinations that travel across the floor, to minimize the movement of droplets throughout the room. </p><p>If you're usually a tactile learner, you may need to ask for additional clarifications to auditory corrections. And while it may seem that the "fun" parts of class are forbidden for the time being, use this as an opportunity to zero in on and reconnect with your technique. </p>
As we spend more time at home and less in the studio, many aspects of our routine simply aren't up to us. In the midst of COVID-19–related shutdowns, some dancers may be struggling with their relationship to food, whether they're feeling guilty about stress eating or are developing dangerous disordered eating behaviors, such as restricting or bingeing.
Dance Magazine spoke with Rachel Fine, dietitian and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition, to address dancers' concerns during this time, along with tips for more mindful eating at home.
We're in an extreme situation.<p>Dancers with perfectionistic tendencies may be more prone to developing dangerous food habits<strong></strong>. "Right now, we're in an extreme situation of so much being out of our control," says Fine. "There is a major impact of isolation and not knowing what the future will hold with summer intensives, auditions, contracts, the financial state of the dance industry. So you definitely have dancers—probably more likely the ones that are more type A perfectionists—using this as an opportunity to control something: their food intake."</p><p>If it seems like you're constantly visiting the fridge, you're not the only one, and it doesn't mean you have an eating disorder. Snacking out of boredom, stress or emotions, or simply overeating, are common for anyone regardless of personality type, says Fine. Still, she mentions that during this especially stressful time, a dancer might worry about gaining weight at home and resort to a binge-and-restrict cycle much faster than they would under a normal, jam-packed schedule. </p>
You might gain weight—and that's okay.<p>It's a given that you can't precisely replicate the experience of class and rehearsal at home, and overall, you're likely spending less time being active. Accept the fact that you might gain a few pounds. </p><p>Fine often sees dancers struggle with their changing bodies, especially if they developed disordered eating during puberty. "It's not fair to compare your prepubescent body to what your body needs to look like as an 18 year old, or as a 30 year old." </p><p>During this period of uncertainty, she urges dancers to be patient with themselves, and confident that they can get back to where they were—without resorting to extremes—after this temporary situation. As you return to your normal activity levels, trust that your body will respond.</p><p>Keep in mind that dance companies and schools worldwide are being affected by shutdowns. "It's not like you have an injury, you're sitting out and the girl next to you is going further," says Fine. "Everyone's going back to the studio less in shape than they were when they were there."</p>
Use this time to tune in to your body's signals.<p>"One of the biggest questions that I'm getting asked right now is 'Should I be reducing the amount that I'm eating because I'm not burning as much?' " says Fine, who warns against calorie restriction. Instead of trying to reduce your intake by counting calories, focus on tuning in to your feelings of hunger and fullness.<br></p><p>"If <del></del>your energy expenditure is not as high, your body is going to adjust and you're generally not going to feel as hungry as usual or you might feel fuller sooner." Without the busyness of cramming in a meal between rehearsals, dancers now have more free time to practice mindful eating behaviors. "Try building more communication and trust with your body so that you can listen to your intuitive feelings of fullness at a meal or at a snack."</p>
Structure your day.<p>If you feel like you're mindlessly noshing throughout the day, Fine says, "consider giving yourself some type of structure, just as you would with your dance classes or activities at home. Write down a schedule: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack."</p>
Make eating a positive experience.<p>When you eat, make it intentional. "If you want chips, put them on a plate and pair them with a protein source," says Fine, instead of eating out of the bag. "Food is meant to be happy, enjoyable, comfortable." Tasting and enjoying each bite creates a good experience, whereas mindlessly eating can leave you feeling overstuffed or full to the point of physical discomfort. "That's going to turn it into a bad experience with food."</p><p>And if you want ice cream, have it. "We should always embrace our cravings," she says. <del></del></p>
If you need help<p>Usually, if a client is concerned about their relationship with food, Fine helps them identify the source of their stress. "But with COVID-19, we can't fix the source right now," she says. "Our stress is going to be there, so we might need tools to get through this temporarily stressful situation."</p><p>If you feel like your eating habits are dangerous, there is <a href="https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/covid-19-resources-page" target="_blank">virtual help</a> available. Fine's website includes <a href="https://dancenutrition.com/" target="_blank">resources</a> for dancers, like recommended books and podcasts about healthy eating. The National Eating Disorders Association has compiled a list of <a href="https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/covid-19-response-treatment-centers" target="_blank">treatment centers currently offering online sessions</a>, and its <a href="https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline" target="_blank">helpline</a> is available via phone, text or online chat.</p>
Twenty-one ballet organizations have come together to support the advancement of racial equity in professional ballet. They're all part of The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet, a new effort being led by Dance Theatre of Harlem, The International Association of Blacks in Dance and Dance/USA.
It's Broadway awards season (hello Tony, Chita Rivera and Drama Desk Awards!), and this year, there's a lot for fans to sing and dance about. If you're a millennial, your heart is certainly happy with this morning's Tony announcement: SpongeBob SquarePants and Mean Girls scored the most nominations for a musical at 12 each. (The two-part play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child got 10.)Mean Girls leads the pack with 12 Tony nominations. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown.
July 1 marks an exciting new era for The Juilliard School. Vail Dance Festival director and former New York City Ballet principal Damian Woetzel steps into the role of president, and the dance division will also have a new leader: Alicia Graf Mack, 39, will take over from Taryn Kaschock Russell, acting artistic director for the current school year.
There must be something in the water: Last week, we announced that Madonna is directing Michaela DePrince's upcoming biopic. And yesterday, we got wind of another major dance film: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox Searchlight has sealed the deal to make Ailey Ailey's life and work into a movie. Yes, please.
While some movies falter along their way to the big screen, we think this one's got legs (and hopefully a whole lot of lateral T's and hinges and coccyx balances, too). Why?
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Sean Aaron Carmon in Ailey's Revelations. Photo by EricGrayPhotography.com, Courtesy AAADT.
1. High-profile songstress and all-around goddess Alicia Keys is one of the film's producers.
2. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is on board. The Hollywood Reporter specifically mentioned that artistic director Robert Battle and artistic director emerita Judith Jamison will be part of the process.Robert Battle and Judith Jamison will work closely with the movie's producers. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
3. The history should be on point. Fox Searchlight has secured the rights to Jennifer Dunning's biography Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance.
And it goes without saying that the dance scenes will amazingly fierce and likely full of current Ailey dancers. Still, it's too early to know exactly what the film will look like: Will it be a dramatized version of the late choreographer's life? A documentary laced with archival footage and commentary from Ailey experts?
In a statement, Battle expressed his excitement for the project, saying, "We are thrilled to be working with these incredible partners to bring to the screen the amazing journey and revolutionary choreography of Alvin Ailey, whose life and legacy profoundly impacted people of all backgrounds around the world."Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Linda Celeste Sims in Ailey's rousing Cry (1971). Photo by Christopher Duggan.
We're thrilled too. What choreography do you hope to see most in the movie? (We're dying for a fiery Cry and some soulful snippets of Revelations.) Tell us in the comments.
Yesterday evening, Peter Martins announced his immediate retirement as New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief through a letter to the company's board. He had been solely in charge of the company's artistic direction since 1989 and the School of American Ballet's chairman of faculty since 1983. Since December 7, Martins had been on a self-requested leave, amidst an investigation of claims of sexual harassment as well as physical and verbal abuse. In the letter, he stated, "I have denied, and continue to deny, that I have engaged in any such misconduct." However, earlier articles from The New York Timesand The Washington Post conveyed accounts of verbal and physical abuse by NYCB dancers, both past and present. In 1992, Martins was charged with third-degree assault of his wife Darci Kistler, though the charges were later dropped.
Despite Martins' resignation, the board emphasized in a statement, also released on Monday, that the investigation will continue until it is completed and that "the board takes seriously the allegations that have been made against him."To keep reading, go to dancemagazine.com.
Yesterday The New York Times reported that New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet are jointly investigating sexual harassment claims involving Peter Martins. According to a statement from SAB, it "recently received an anonymous letter making general, nonspecific allegations of sexual harassment in the past by Peter Martins at both New York City Ballet and the school."
Martins, who serves as NYCB's ballet master in chief and SAB's chairman of faculty and artistic director will not be teaching his weekly class at the school as the investigation continues. He currently maintains his positions at both organizations.
While sexual harassment allegations have recently been made against a growing list of Hollywood heavy-hitters, politicians, news anchors and other men in positions of power, this is the first investigation this year of a major figure from the dance world.