In the Middle of a Pandemic, Dancers Re-frame What It Means to Stay In Motion

by Courtney Colón for The Dance Journal

Around the world, a coronavirus culture has quickly materialized. Instinctive, inventive, bred from mass public fear and the endless tedium of quarantine, people are seeking out a connection in this time of social distancing. But what of fostering a stronger connection with our bodies, our own selves? As the pandemic timeline extends, it will continue to alter what events make up our everyday. Any daily ritual we have been performing, any personal movement practices we have maintained, must also evolve as we consider our relationship between body and place.

Part ethnography, part conscious routine, a personalized movement practice is the culmination of an individual’s life experiences made physical. We pull movement from our own histories and cultures, our own bodies. These daily acts can be used to strengthen us physically and mentally-to prepare us for the day ahead, or to wind down before bed. We choose our practices – in some ways, these rituals are a continuous personal reflection of the here and now. This period of quarantine and social distancing allows us an opportunity to examine and re-imagine our daily individual practices in relation to community-building and self-care.

Evidence of the evolution of personal practice is currently being archived throughout social media platforms. Yoga sequences in front of a window, improvisations in shallow closets, ballet barres in the kitchen, movement shared by friends and strangers alike through online classes and Instagram challenges; all brought right to your living room in real-time through a digital interface. People are searching for ways to stay in motion. Gone are dance classes in studios and logging gym time, instead it has been replaced by any amount and level of movement you construct for yourself. As we expand our movement practices for this new era, it becomes a reflection of our contemporary culture performed.

In this age of the coronavirus, we have little say in where we can go and who we can physically interact with. Establishing a movement practice becomes a place where one can assert agency and foster creativity. Movers become more physically aware and enjoy a greater sense of well-being. There is a chance here amidst the chaos and uncertainty to slow down and listen to your body. To adapt and create a new routine within unusual or never before considered physical spaces. Perhaps this is the moment to encourage risk-taking and to figure out where you find joy in movement. If you are a creator (and you are – creativity is inherent and not exclusive to a specialized few), here lies an opportunity to allow yourself to discover movement performed only for personal satisfaction and not for how it looks to those that are watching.

Photo courtesy of Zornitsa Stoyanova