The past two years have been really hard for the planet and the entire human race. In the dance world, like other professions, artists of all kinds lost their jobs – with no idea when they would return. Teachers began to teach virtually, missing the unique energy and togetherness of in-person classes and shows. Students’ training schedules were forced on hold. Performers, who worked their whole lives to get ‘that gig’, lost it for the foreseeable future. Despite the many things that we took for granted being shut down for so long, here are some things to be grateful for as the world and dance world reopen.
1. The Ability to Move
This may seem like an obvious point to have on your gratitude list. Or maybe, it used to be. It’s easy to get caught up in perfecting technique, stretching for more flexibility, and diet-culture. We’ve seen how everything that fills our schedule can be shut down in an instant. We’ve lived it. To be grateful for one's health is now, more than ever, a global recognition. When you count your blessings, remember the joy and convenience of movement itself.
2. The Adjusted View of Productivity
Pre-pandemic, the emphasis on productivity was becoming suffocating and toxic. Of course, it still exists today, but society has turned its attention to rest and taking care of yourself. The “go-go-go” mentality is engrained in many of us, but when reflecting back on the year, we have noted the real value in listening to our bodies and prioritizing our physical and mental health over productivity.
3. The Systems That Allowed Us to Stay Connected
Teachers of all kinds faced challenges when switching from in-person to virtual classes. The energy is different in many ways. In certain environments, we may not have seen each other’s faces at all if not for the adaptation of our existing technology to work more conducively for social distancing. In the dance world, we lost what we loved about teaching our classes in a studio, but we gained a portal of access to other artists anywhere in the world. Maybe you live in Nebraska and could never take that class taught by your favorite choreographer in Los Angeles or New York, but found you could experience it virtually!
4. To Dance Together
We can all agree that nothing compares to the energy of learning and dancing in the same space. When we celebrate Thanksgiving, we celebrate togetherness. It’s not uncommon to take our daily routines for granted. We go to class, to rehearsal, to an audition – just another day. But after all in-person activities were shut down, we are now craving and grateful for simply creating movement while breathing the same air and energy again.
5. The New Wave of Enthusiasm
Burnout is common in this hustle culture. After much time apart, dancers, choreographers, and teachers are excited and inspired to be working hard with a refreshed positive mindset.
6. The Upward Trend for Opportunities
We all predicted that the arts would be one of the last ‘things to come back’. On the gratitude list of many performers is the ability to audition and perform in shows again, whether to simply do what they love, or to get paid for doing what they love. These opportunities were non-existent for so long, halting many plans, goals, and paychecks – it is more than relieving to see them on the uptick to stay. Fear of the unknown is scary; we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
7. Enhanced Recognition
In times of crisis, the arts are always the first jobs to get cut. They did suffer extremely, with many studios and programs not making it through the pandemic. Despite this, on a larger scale, it seems that non-dance folk have realized how much they enjoyed music, dance, and entertainment during the shutdown world, and how much it was necessary for our sanity.
8. Greater Appreciation for Understudies and Swings
Understudies and swings are tasked with not only learning multiple parts, but being able to step in and perform those roles and staging in a moment’s notice – or, putting in the work to do the task without ever getting the chance to perform. Pre-pandemic, dancers didn’t anticipate getting hurt or sick as much. In most ways, it was a “just in case” position. However, the unfortunate reality of today is that Covid-19 can be contracted at any time. For dancers, moments on the stage are less stable. For choreographers, the role of the understudy is now vital and a necessary security blanket. An understudy or swing can be grateful for the increase in importance that their role now plays in the world of live performance. Cast members can be grateful for the support they gain from these roles as well.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year and count your blessings, remember that sometimes the things to be grateful for are the simplest. After losing so much to the pandemic, we can reflect more clearly now on ‘WHY’ we love this craft: the ability to move, create, and be amongst other artists is what’s most important.