Together and in person: everyone is dancing now

The pandemic has interrupted the dance on several fronts, closing not only theaters but also the spaces where dancers train. Along with...

The pandemic has interrupted the dance on several fronts, closing not only theaters but also the spaces where dancers train. Along with the gradual return of live performances to New York City, dance studios have made a cautious comeback, as they reopen for in-person classes with safety protocols in place.

This is good news for anyone, professional or amateur, who is tired of dancing at home, alone, in front of a screen. Across the city this fall, opportunities for offline dancing abound: a way to shed the pandemic blues, even as the pandemic continues.

“As much as we’re grateful to be able to work virtually, it’s a completely different energy to be together in person,” said Jimena Martinez, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Cumbe: Center for African and Diasporic Dance in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Like many dance studios, Cumbe switched to a fully online schedule early in the pandemic. His in-person indoor classes – in forms such as Afro-Haitian dance, samba, and Chicago-Style Steppin ‘- resumed this month. (The studio continues to offer virtual and outdoor classes.)

Martinez said the online classes have had their perks, attracting new students from beyond Brooklyn who couldn’t normally make it to the studio. But the joyful, even therapeutic power of dancing together in a shared space – with live percussion, a staple of many Cumbe classes – has been difficult to replicate on Zoom.

Some New York studios have been offering in-person classes since the spring or even earlier. What’s new this fall, as per city guidelines, is the requirement that students show proof of vaccination.

Amid so many changes and uncertainties, clear communication about Covid-19 protocols can be reassuring. For dancer and choreographer Garnet Henderson, this has been a Steps on Broadway, on the Upper West Side, where she has been taking ballet lessons since May.

“It seems they care about everyone’s safety, which is good,” said Henderson, who is not deterred by the requirement that students wear masks when dancing. The studio is an upgrade on his living room.

“I really missed having proper floor and space to do the jumps and waltzes and the bigger moving exercises of ballet class,” she said, “because that’s the part. fun. “

While indoor classes have resumed at other long-established studios, such as periodicity, Gibney and Mark Morris Dance Center, to name a few, new outdoor offerings have also emerged. At the start of the pandemic, a group of savvy dancers quickly organized freeskewl, an online course platform that has since expanded to include outdoor classes. (The last time is at At Prospect Park, the improv club, established a year ago, hosts movement improvisation sessions for people of all levels of dance experience. (For updates, follow @improvclub_ on Instagram.) And in city parks and squares, Dances for a Variable Population runs creative movement classes for seniors of all skill levels. (See for more details.)

For many organizations, virtual classrooms get nowhere. The Merce Cunningham Trust, for example, has been offering free daily classes via Instagram since March 2020; these will continue three times a week as daily Cunningham Technique Course return to the city center (the home port of the Trust).

Brandon Collwes, an instructor at Cunningham, said Instagram classes have increased access to work that can often seem intimidating. Already, he has noticed a more diverse group of students during his in-person classes, which he attributes in part to this greater accessibility. The change turns him on. “It feels like something has changed,” he said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Together and in person: everyone is dancing now
Together and in person: everyone is dancing now
Newsrust - US Top News
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