Zoom is a Gift – a Dancer’s Reflection
Submitted by Lucinda Zastrocky, Colorado Conservatory of Dance Student
Taking a dance class over Zoom is something I never imagined would be possible. The fact that it has become the new normal is still hard to believe. We have been limited by space and are experiencing the ritual of class in solitude. The pandemic shook our world on every conceivable level. But art loves to shake things up, to change our perspective so that new meaning can be found. Dancers have learned much during this time. There have been struggles as well as benefits, and we can learn from both. Dancers work their bodies to be strong and pliable, and the pandemic has forced us to be both things in more than the physical sense.
Dancing from home is hard. We have associations to certain spaces. You enter a dance studio and stand a little taller. You see your reflection in the mirror, feel the vastness of the room, and anticipate the movement and music it will soon be filled with. You get into a state of focus and readiness. Similarly, the spaces in our home have certain associations. You see your bed and think of sleep. You enter your kitchen and think of food and socializing. You see your couch and think of sitting to watch your favorite TV show. The challenge dancers face is to take class in these spaces and ignore the feelings and thoughts they provoke. To find ways to get into a state of focus and readiness without a studio. This takes great mental effort and discipline. This can also prepare dancers for a time when they will have to dance or perform without the comfort of their home studio.
Nothing is simply handed to you during a pandemic. Those who study in, train in, and share in dance have had to take charge of their own work, opportunities, and growth. Students training on Zoom have to earn their corrections and feedback. Presenting themselves and their spaces as being open, and eager. They must make sure they will be seen in a sea of tiny Zoom boxes. In some ways this can be fun. The dancer can play with lighting, camera angles and height that show them in their best light (pun intended).
Dancing alone, with fellow dancers and teachers reduced to our computer screens, has been more challenging for some than others. I like to say that a person can be alone, but not lonely. Likewise a dancer can dance alone in a room, and not be lonely. Solitude can be a gift. It can allow a person to become better acquainted with themselves. This can be uncomfortable and overwhelming. It is also vital for an artist. It promotes growth, confidence, and clarity in oneself. Solitude can be quite freeing. Dancers can experience what it feels like to “Dance like Nobody’s Watching”. Privacy is a useful tool when experimenting, questioning, and testing one’s abilities. All of which dance requires from us. Without performances and the physical presence of a teacher and fellow dancers, we must find purpose in what we do, simply within ourselves. For some, the love of dance has been challenged, for others, strengthened. Neither scenario is better than the other. Self discovery is vital for the human, not just the artist.
Zoom has been a gift, and a torture. Dancers have reaped benefits from it, and we will be overjoyed when we are free from it. I am excited to see how the future generation of dancers will defer from training on this platform. I envision strong minded, confident, focused, creative dancers, emerging from these challenges. In the midst of change, uncertainty, anger, fear, and sadness, our bodies, our dance can be a refuge. An escape, and a means to process. To all dancers struggling with Zoom classes, give yourself grace and time to mourn the loss of performances, and other opportunities. Look for the benefits you can reap from the situation. Don’t forget to acknowledge the hard thing you are doing. Be proud of yourself for showing up every day in the midst of a pandemic, and know that you are not alone. May we continue to dance, and may our dancing connect us.