Dancing through difficult times
A picture of dancers and a teacher in a mask may look sad from the outside, but let me assure you it has been quite the opposite.
For 8 weeks our dancers and staff were stuck in their homes. The only dance we could do was with a webcam in whatever space we could carve out to dance. We were always grateful to see each other. I looked forward to hearing their stories and seeing their faces. We worked endurance. We worked Technique. We practiced the dances they learned before we went virtual. We held master classes for something fun.
We all adapted, reluctantly at first. I know I was in denial and thought it would all end in a couple of weeks. But then reality sunk in and I adapted to a new routine of a computer screen being the window through which I taught. At the end of May, we were allowed back into our dance home! But there were a lot of changes… A mask, social distancing, more hand-washing, lots of cleaning. It didn’t matter. We would do anything to be back. And again we adapted. Nothing was as weird as the mask, well that and not hugging… We realized very quickly that we are like a big Italian family! We hug to say hello, to say goodbye, to comfort, to congratulate, all of the things!
However, the masks created a strange anxiety. Fear of working too hard and breathing too hard. So my brother told the kids a story. When he was in the Marine Corps, they ran very regularly with face coverings on. It was to build lung strength and to prepare for a desert deployment. It was hard and recruits struggled. But when they ran without mask the next time, they ran faster and were less out of breath. The next time with face coverings was less difficult. Their lungs were getting stronger. They adapted. I watched their faces change as he told the story. I watch these athletes realize they were in control of something for the first time since the pandemic began – their conditioning. They know how to condition and get stronger…they have been doing it their entire dance career. In that moment I watched them choose not to let the masks affect their dance season. They were going to dance. They were going to get stronger. They were going to get on stage. By the end of the second week, we were taking less brakes. They were socializing and having fun. It was the closest thing to normal any of us had experienced since March, and we were all in!
A lot of things continue to change, but we got to finish our season because these dancers are determined athletes. We held recital in person, it was different, but it happened. We went to Nationals, they danced so well I personally cried multiple times out of joy. We danced at professional theaters in Branson, MO for paying audiences that were just as excited to be there as we were. We came home to Kansas City feeling victorious! I am smiling now as I write this. It could not be more proud of our dancers, families and staff. And as we start our 46 season that Miss Diana school dance with all of the uncertainties in the world right now, I am certain our dance family will amaze us yet again.