Dancers continue their passion despite COVID-19

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DMCA / Pxfuel / CC0

Dance manages to maintain a large online presence in response to COVID-19.

Empty streets, closed businesses, quiet neighborhoods. Sometimes, it feels like the entire world is just…paused. But, despite a global pandemic, the world hasn’t stopped moving.

Dance teachers across the country are still finding ways to continue teaching and spreading their love for dance. Whether it be through broadcasting their classes on Zoom or Instagram Live, students can enjoy dancing from the safety of their homes. 

Katie Chen, a dancer at Heartbeat Dance Academy, continues to develop her skills through online classes provided by her studio.

“I want to get better and improve my technique. I’m really glad we still have classes even though they’re online because I want to try to stay fit and active even though we’re stuck at home,” Chen said. 

Although online dance classes have become a resource, a common hardship during this time is finding the motivation. For many dancers, the physical environment of being in a studio and collaborating with other dancers can’t be replaced by online classes. Still, many are grateful for the opportunity to continue dancing.

“It’s still a struggle to find motivation a lot of the time, but I try to think about how much I love ballet and what it will feel like when I can get back in the studio,” said Kasey Parks, a sophomore at Carlmont and a dancer at Peninsula Ballet Theatre.

One of the more extensive online resources for dancers right now is a website called Dancing Alone Together. After state governments initiated shelter-in-place, Katherine Disenhof, a professional dancer, launched her site to help dancers stay active. The website hosts a wide variety of dance classes, from ballet and jazz to African and Gaga dance. 

“I found out we were going to be on a break due to the closures of COVID […] and I noticed just across social media people giving classes suddenly online […] so I thought, maybe I’ll just put everything in one place and just kind of compile information [for dancers],” Disenhof said.

From the get-go, Disenhof’s website received immediate results. Within the first five days of the launch, the site had 129,867 unique visitors. After resetting the analytics on April 18, Dancing Alone Together now has around 17,500 users per week.

Disenhof’s website provides dancers with the opportunity to take classes with teachers across the country. Since the start of quarantine, professional dancers like Tiler Peck and teachers from the Peridance Capezio Center have put their classes online for free, so even inexperienced dancers can try something new. Dancing Alone Together compiles the classes and makes it easy for people to find and attend classes all around the United States.

I do think dancing, staying alive and in person, is a very important part of the lifeblood of the industry. I don’t want to take away from that and I do hope that we all go back to studios, and dance live in person”

— Katherine Disenhof

“I am constantly amazed by what’s been happening, and I see this as a positive thing. There have been some really nice things happening in terms of people who haven’t danced in a while coming back to dancing or returning to dance,” Disenhof said. “Hopefully, you know, [we can] help bring more people into the studios afterwards.”

Additionally, many studios are aware of the financial burden that COVID-19 has put on people worldwide. By continuing to teach and offer their classes at exceptionally low prices, dancers can keep doing what they love amidst this pandemic.

“I know there are some people who have really actually benefited from having online classes because either they’re in a situation where they just can’t get to live classes or don’t have the resources to,” Disenhof said.

But through all of this, dancers across the country will emerge stronger and more empowered. Because of sites like Dancing Alone Together and the tireless studios who have fought to stay open, the dance community has become even more united. So, despite a global pandemic, dancers will never stop moving.

“I’m grateful that dance is a constant during uncertain times like right now,” Chen said.