Dance is fluid by nature. It invites us to be present and able to slow down and go with the natural flow of things. Dance provides an opportunity for us to get out of our heads and more into our body as we move. When we dance, we have a complete awareness of our bodies and our surroundings. Dance requires a certain level of agility, both physically and mentally.
Additionally, there is a dynamic interaction at play when dancers perform in front of an audience, meaning that it is not only the dancers affecting the audience, but also the audience is impacting the dancers. Dance changes as a result of how the audience behaves. Of course, audience behavior has shifted drastically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dance changes when the audience changes.
“Dancers have become more responsible for their own training than they ever were.“
Audience behavior plays such a vital role in how we perform. You might even be surprised to learn just how much of an impact the audience and its behavior has on dancers. This study conducted in Japan actually looked at the differences in dancers’ emotions and body movements with an audience present versus without an audience. According to the study, “there was an increase in dynamic hip movements in the presence of an audience,” which is pretty astonishing if you think about it.
Beyond how we perform as dancers, let alone the colorful community of Houston dancers, audience behavior also affects how we gather as a culture. Societies have congregated in mass gatherings throughout history. Cultural gatherings are embedded into humanity. Coming together around a common interest, whether it is religion, sports, performing arts, or music, is one of the most natural, human activities we can participate in. Again, as a result of not being able to gather as an audience during the global pandemic, audience behavior has had to shift and take a new form.
“We are here to remind you not to lose hope. Be gentle with yourself and try to have compassion for yourself. Remember why you do what you do, and how it makes you feel.”
How the Life of a Dancer has Changed
For dancers, everything has shifted in the last 15 months. Dancers in Houston and around the world have experienced changes. Dancers have had to enter into different roles than they might have been used to, and thus have had to take on new responsibilities. Even at our own studio, we were unable to connect with dancers or photograph them for a good long while. Dancers have become more responsible for their own training than they ever were. A new level of accountability has emerged since you have not been able to meet with your teachers in person and with the same structure and schedule, you have always had.
Additionally, competitions have changed a lot, too. They used to be an event that consumed an entire weekend; a weekend full of excitement, adrenaline, and constantly being on the go. Amidst the pandemic, though, venues have not been able to be open. Each studio has a very limited amount of time available for competitions. As a result of this, award ceremonies are very bare and brief, if they even take place at all. This is mentally and emotionally a bit of a letdown because it can feel like it takes away from rewarding all of the time and energy dancers dedicate to their practice.
Moreover, classes in general have become more difficult for many dancers. As masks have been required at all times for most, it is easy to see how that could be frustrating and a nuisance for dancers trying to focus on fine-tuning their movements, let alone trying to breathe in a mask when accomplishing leaps and energetic barre combinations.
“No one came out of this “clean,” and totally unscathed, so do not be too hard on yourself.”
Some dancers have really struggled to stay motivated with all of the change. It can feel overwhelming. Inspiration has gradually dwindled as the pandemic has gone on and has felt harder to come by for many. Furthermore, disillusionment has been a common feeling for a lot of young dancers who, prior to the pandemic, had considered the possibility of a professional career in dance. What once felt like a clear dream to work toward might now feel more out of reach as we have waded through a lot of uncertainty during COVID-19.
Zoom at-home classes and at-home training independent of the studio and teachers has totally shifted the responsibility even more to dancers themselves. This can feel like a lot of pressure, and can really take a toll on the psyche, mental health, and motivation on dancers. We empathize so deeply for anyone who has struggled with this. We are here to remind you not to lose hope. Be gentle with yourself and try to have compassion for yourself. Remember why you do what you do, and how it makes you feel. That is truly all that matters.
Please try to remember that whether you are Houston dancers, or are on the other side of the world, everyone had a tough time during this pandemic. Dancers and non-dancers alike, we are all able to relate to the various struggles we have all faced. No one came out of this “clean,” and totally unscathed, so do not be too hard on yourself. Perhaps you are experiencing feelings of “I should have…” or “I didn’t…,” but it is okay. You are not alone. This has been a worldwide event that has touched everyone differently, and you have done the best you can with what you have had available to you.
We are so grateful for our connection to the beautiful community of dance in Houston that has allowed us to form relationships across the country. We genuinely care. We have some suggestions we want to offer to help you as you begin to heal and move forward.
“Extend the same kindness, warmth, and understanding to yourself that you would to a friend.”
Don’t be too Hard on Yourself
As we already mentioned, this period has impacted every single person on the planet in some capacity, and Houston dancers have shared an experience of worldly proportions. People have been forced to juggle many things at once and wear many, many hats they never had previously worn. It has been uncomfortable and pushed us all to our limits at some points. If you feel frustrated with how the last 15 months has looked for you, that is okay. Your feelings are completely valid. We invite you to look for ways to bring in softness and grace for yourself. We are our own harshest critics. Extend the same kindness, warmth, and understanding to yourself that you would to a friend.
Prioritize Rest and Recovery Time
Now that things are slowly picking back up and resuming some sense of pre-pandemic normalcy, it might be tempting to double down and overcommit. Even before the pandemic, giving yourself and your body time to recover was critical. Muscles have to have some time off to be able to properly repair and rebuild, which is essential to staying healthy. On top of the physical necessity of a little R&R, it is also just as crucial for your mental wellbeing. By making sure you are giving yourself enough time to rest and recover, you will be taking care of yourself and helping yourself to reset and stay motivated. This article brilliantly breaks down why rest and recovery time are what can truly help take your dance to the next level.
Put Yourself Out There
Look, we know that putting yourself out there is not easy and can feel scary. Especially coming out of the pandemic and getting used to being around people again, things might feel weird for a while. Challenge yourself when you have the chance. Keep putting yourself out there. You just might be surprised by yourself.
Don’t Shy Away from Variety
We are here for Houston Dancers and are so fortunate to see all of the amazing things happening in the Houston dance scene. We know many dancers who find their “thing,” their place they shine in, and therefore want to stay in their comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with comfort zones! However, there is also great value in being able to shake things up a bit from time to time.
Take new classes; try out some different styles of dance than what you are used to on occasion. There are endless options for Houston dancers here to try out different types of dance and movement. This city is overflowing with opportunities. This will help you appreciate the basic foundation of your own relationship with your practice. It will also give you a new perspective of the beauty of where you choose to excel in the world of dance. You can fall in love with dance over and over again when you bring in some variety.
“This new world of opportunity bridges the gaps and brings us all together, despite physical distances.”
Embrace the new
One positive result of the COVID-19 pandemic is the accessibility of opportunities. With everything being forced to shift to the digital world, possibilities became endless for what we could do and learn online. For example, online workshops, infinite classes to choose from, mentoring opportunities, and more became available across borders. People became even more interconnected through the internet.
Even though the world has changed, it has also opened up to an entirely new realm of infinite opportunity and possibility. This new world of opportunity bridges the gaps and brings us all together, despite physical distances. Everything has become more accessible, so it is a great time to take advantage of these unique opportunities available.
Look, we understand that it is so easy to get so caught up in your dance practice that you forget what actually drew you in in the first place. As you move forward, remember to have fun! As Houston dancers as a community get back into the swing of classes and more, try to ignore the comparisons of your experiences and let it all go in your movements. It might sound overly simple, but it is quite possibly the most important piece of advice we can give. Remember that you choose to dance for your happiness and fulfillment. Goals are important to have, but they are just goals. You should always do what makes you happy and lights you up.
Want to capture your dancing?
We can capture your unique personality and style. We have Sessions for dance auditions as well as Creative Sessions, which offer a large range of diverse options.