Dance in the Time of Coronavirus

Dance Culture

Dance in the Time of Coronavirus

Charise Roberts
January 23, 2024
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Love & belonging

At its surface, dance is just a source of fun and entertainment.

I mean, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs doesn’t place dance at the level of food, water, or shelter. We can, technically, live without it.

So when thousands of people are dying every day, dancing can feel trivial, even downright indulgent.

But beneath its surface, dance has layers of function.

Dance connects us to each other, helping us feel less lonely when we are literally forced to be apart.

Dance gives us a way to look inward in a noisy, ever-changing world.

Dance lets us express those nameless, gnawing, sometimes torturous emotions that would otherwise consume us.

We do need dance––now, more than ever.

It’s been a bittersweet month.

The “bitter” part needs no explaining. All companies are made of human beings, and STEEZY’s human beings also feel every ounce of heartbreak, frustration, and anxiety that this pandemic brought with it. We all have loved ones. We all are loved ones. It’s an uncertain time in a volatile world, and no one is exempt.

But there is nothing more important to us than the health and safety of our team and instructors, so we followed the necessary protocol and stopped shooting classes–cold turkey.

The silver lining is that STEEZY can still operate. Grateful to be in the place we’re in, we’re working (from home,) harder than ever.

We dedicated ourselves to new projects to support the community during this unique climate – like giving away weeks of free classes to keep people dancing.

When work is lost

I work closely with our STEEZY Studio Instructors, and one thing they always talk about is how stressful the gig economy is. Even when work is plentiful, it’s inconsistent.

And right now, work is not plentiful and even less consistent. With professional dancers losing most of their jobs (some until the end of the year) and no definitive ending in sight, their financial future looks more uncertain than ever.

Every quarter, STEEZY sends royalty checks to our Instructors. We believe that dances, just like songs, are valuable creative property. So, we built a system within our business that reflects this value. As STEEZY grows over time, so should our Instructors’ share of our revenue.

But money is only one part of the equation. There is a mental toll that human beings suffer without a sense of purpose.

We don’t just work for money, we also work for meaning.

This can’t be truer for dancers. We love dancing, we love teaching, we love sharing. Dance is baked into our identities. It feels like COVID-19 has stripped dancers of their livelihood in more ways than one.

But, we’re a resilient bunch

Dancers have gotten creative; turning to Instagram Live or Zoom to host their own classes, many of them for free. These platforms weren’t built for teaching and learning dance, but thankfully they’re bearable temporary solutions.

The world’s been moving online. We’ve known this at STEEZY, and spent the last 6 years pioneering dance in the digital space.

The quarantine just accelerated this transition and made more people open to learn dance online. It’s refreshing to witness this paradigm shift.

More than that, it’s beautiful to see the community rally to connect with and support each other––from wherever we are, using whatever we can.

When life gets hard, lean on the things worth living for

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but the pressure is off. You don’t need to use this time to uncover some hidden talent, finish 20 books, or go viral on TikTok.

You are doing enough by staying home to help make the world a little safer.

The only responsibility any of us have in this crisis is to fight for whatever joys we can afford.

Whether we’re dancing all alone, eating with our families, or on a FaceTime hangout with friends–we must savor and cherish the moments that make us feel love, make us feel like we belong.

So keep the music playing. Keep looking to each other with tenderness and compassion. Keep your hope alive. This is the only antidote we can count on.

We’ll be here through it all. ♡