by Gina Palumbo for The Dance Journal | photo credit Rob Li
March and April have been anything but smooth sailing, as COVID-19 continues its worst, threatening the livelihoods of working artists and dancers. Yet, amidst all the suffering, a path to healing is beginning to evolve. While healthcare professionals are on the front lines with those who have been stricken by the virus, artists and dancers everywhere are banding together virtually to bring joy and alleviate the anxiety that has gripped so many of us.
Dance studios may be shuttered but education has not been halted. Screen time has given back some of what has been taken away and has proven itself to be much more than a means of passing the time. World-class dance training is more accessible than it ever has been and Philadelphia continues to be at the forefront of online offerings. These classes have mostly been offered for free or at low-cost, and have even been modified for small home practice spaces. Asya Zlatina is one such dancer in Philadelphia doing just this.
Zlatina originally born in Moscow, Russia, grew up training in the DC/Baltimore area. Zlatina graduated with a B.A. in Dance and Psychology from Goucher College, and eventually moved to Philadelphia joining Koresh Dance Company in 2008. She now has established her own company, ARTIST HOUSE / Asya Zlatina + Dancers.
I reached out to Asya Zlatina by phone, to get a sense of a typical day of a professional dancer, choreographer and instructor in quarantine. Despite the issues the pandemic has brought on, she wants you to know that this time feels “important. The choices we make in these times will reflect on us their impact for many years to come.”
Zlatina carried me through her day, starting and ending in the small hours of the morning.
Wakeup Time: Asya wakes up as soon as she can because her bedtime is quite early in the morning.
9:00 am She then begins working on her internship for FringeArts
11:00 am Asya teaches a 5 Minute Fitness routine and streams it on Facebook Live.
11:10 am Her FringeArts Internship work continues
1:00 pm Asya teaches an Advanced Ballet Barre and streams it on Facebook Live.
2:00 pm Asya takes this time to complete errands, cooking, cleaning and administrative work for her company ARTIST HOUSE / Asya Zlatina + Dancers.
5:00 pm This time is reserved for a puzzle break with her husband, as well as for checking in with her family.
8:00 pm Asya has dinner, then watches some T.V. Unorthodox, Shark Tank and Poirot are the shows to watch right now. She then finds time to relax or have a Zoom call with friends.
10:00 pm Asya takes an evening stroll with her husband for some fresh air.
11:00 pm The creative work begins again for her dance company.
3:30 am Asya finally puts an end to the day and has time to catch some zzzz’s…..
I asked Zlatina about her experience with teaching from home. “It’s like groping in the dark,” Zlatina says. “I have no sense yet of what is right in terms of class schedules, methods, charging…but it is important for me to find out. I want to foster a sense of community emanating from my company at this time, but also respect my own time, as well as that of my dancers and teachers.”
Navigating all this is rocky. Zlatina says “this is not the most financially freeing time for people and for dancers especially”.
Administrative work for her company, ARTIST HOUSE / Asya Zlatina + Dancers, includes adjusting most of her programs, which Zlatina says is time-consuming. As an active group, dancers are almost never at rest. We are always in the studio, taking the time to listen and to create. As Zlatina said, this time is important. Perhaps artists are needed now more than ever, to turn in and create the antidote for the darkest hours.
Zlatina’s company has been doing just that. On April 2nd, CARRY ON premiered, a work done by the company entirely in quarantine. This work is being further developed in the CARRY ON AMERICA DANCE CHALLENGE, which ties into International Dance Day at the end of this month. Details for participation can be found at www.artist-house.org/carryon.
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