Performing Arts in a Pandemic

People who are drawn to the arts, regardless of our exterior or social media personas, tend to be gentle souls. Souls for whom the harsh realities of our world require an alternate form of expression other than the limited medium of language. Performance artists are drawn to the stage to tell our stories. The stage is a place where we can shed the skins that bind us in our day to day lives and express the pains and glory of the human experience. Sharing our stories enables artists to feel a sense of release of all that we are holding within and helps us to feel understood.

I am now in my 40’s and I am so happy to say that I have had a wonderful 20-year dance career and still going strong. Even so, with the shutdown of events and performance venues, there is a gaping hole in my life. All the feelings that ebb and flow through my being need a place to go and that place is through music, into my body and onto a stage. Of course, I dance in my home studio for myself and by myself – but the shared experience of dance is something that I am missing desperately. Although a dancers experience is a deeply personal one, there is a quality of the community around dance that is so vital to our well-being and I think most of us will agree that are feeling the empty space. We have taken to Instagram to share our videos dancing in PJ’s, many of us have pulled together virtual events to hold our community close and most of us who teach are now offering online classes. These are all wonderful things and help us retain a piece of that important part of our lives, but it’s just not the same.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken humanity on a global scale. We are being forced to take a hard look at how we have abused  our planet leading us to these dire consequences, and if you haven’t yet examined our role in this, now is the time to do so – a quarter past actually. Many still refuse to make the connection that our enslavement and domination over other species is at the root of this pandemic. Even if/when COVID gets under control, there is nothing to stop the next pandemic from sweeping the world again without drastic changes to how we treat mother earth and all her inhabitants.

Watching dance studios close by the dozens, my heart aches for what lies ahead for us all, but I want to encourage all my fellow artists to continue with your medium of expression. Do not lie idle and allow those feelings to consume you. Even if it means dancing alone in the dark, continue. All of these feelings need a place to go and the arts and activism are the destination. There will be an artistic renaissance on the other side of this.

My heart goes out to all the victims and families of the victims of this unrelenting virus. I often think about young people growing up in a time like this and how hard it must be. I am saying this as much to myself as I am to anyone who may be reading this – continue. Spend this time exploring those depths of your being that maybe you haven’t visited in a while. Allow your artistic self to be vulnerable and explore those corners that you may be hiding from. Art in its most authentic form is honest and unabashed. We are already seeing the beauty that can result when we stand as one against oppression. When we speak our truth – through language or through art – we are propelling humanity forward.