with Graham and Nathalie
Well, that was a year.
Normally in the first newsletter or blog post after Christmas I would write about all the things that have happened over the last twelve months. I would talk about the festivals we have attended, the concerts we have put on, the achievements and high spots of the year, and what we had planned for the future.
But this has been 2020, and as we all know there has been nothing happening anywhere since March. It was the year that dancing stopped.
This shutdown has hit the dance and events sectors particularly hard. They are arts industries, and so they are seen as ‘less important’ than other areas by some people and have received very little support. But for many of us our art is not just something we do, it is what we are, and to have that taken away from us by a situation that is completely outside our control is so frustrating that it almost hurts. We all knew that injury or old age might catch up with us earlier than we would like and that there would always be a finite limit on how many speakers we can carry or how long we could carry on dancing four five hours every night, but we had planned for that. Our expectations were realistic, but were based on things staying roughly the same. Because let’s face it… who planned for the whole dance, events, and entertainment industry worldwide to simply stop overnight?
Over the next decade I expect that a lot of analyses will be written about the relative impact of various approaches to dealing with the virus, and how they compare to the impact of the virus itself. We may find that the way we have dealt with this was absolutely perfect, or that it was the worst possible thing to do, or even that nothing we did made the slightest difference at all. At the moment we cannot know for sure, so we are where we are and we have to deal with the situation as best we can.
So where does this leave dance?
At the moment, still extremely limited. There are almost no significant dance events happening anywhere in the world, and even if classes are allowed at all they are having to run within extremely tight restrictions. A combination of the regulations that control social gatherings and people’s genuine concern about catching the virus mean that it will be a while before we get anywhere near where we were before in terms of social dance attendance. As for classes, even a short summer or Christmas break can cause a huge loss of momentum and an associated dip in numbers as people finish doing the things they had started to replace their weekly dance classes, so the impact of taking a year off from dancing will not be inconsequential.
There have been a number of new technology initiatives that have appeared this year to try to mitigate the impact of there being no classes to attend: some teachers have set up Zoom or Teams live video training sessions so they can keep the classes running; some of us have pre-recorded classes for viewing and working through at students’ own pace; some have taken their classes outdoors and worked in a “socially distant” way; and I am sure that there are many other things that have been tried too. All of these have their benefits and their challenges, and have worked well in certain situations. Live video classes seem to work well for children’s sessions as many of them dance solo anyway. Pre-recorded classes have worked for exercises and routines that can be tried out and practised in your own time, particularly on your own. But as yet, nothing seems to have replaced the social aspect of dance, and this has left a massive hole unfilled.
This may sound bleak and disheartening, but there is something happening in the background that many of you may not have seen. Opportunities may be lacking at the moment, but the passion and drive that led people to start teaching dance and to organise dance events has not diminished at all. In fact if anything it seems to have grown over the last few months, and our commitment to sharing our love of dance and music with you all is greater now than it has ever been. And this is what we want to stir in you.
In terms of dance opportunities the start of 2021 will not be a lot different to the end of 2020. We know that already and to expect otherwise would be setting our selves up for disappointment. But what can be different is how we engage and how we start to get back into the dancing mind set, and this is where you come in. Because we want to hear your ideas and feedback.
We have the technology to do pretty much anything you want, but before we set anything up and commit to the inevitable costs involved, we would like to hear what it is that you would like us to do to get you ready for the eventual restart. Would you like group zoom classes with a social side included? Would you like one-to-one private tuition by video link? If the tiers and levels shift again so that it’s allowed would you like us to start small classes or one-to-one sessions? Is there something else that we have not thought of that you would like us to try? I am completely open to ideas, so get in touch and let me know!
And in the meantime, make sure we all keep talking. It is easy to drift away from a group and lose touch, but it can be difficult to take that first step back in again if you have not spoken to anyone for ages. So jump on WhatsApp, open your email, find people on social media, and send them a quick hello.
We will dance together in person again soon, and I promise that when things get under way again we will put on the biggest and best classes and events that we have ever done. Because after this enforced hiatus we are ready to come back with a bang!
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