When in doubt, dance

I confess, I don’t do well in pandemics. I wish I did. I wish I could be like people who describe self quarantine and social distancing as “boring” and therefore consume their days power washing their houses, studying obscure languages, or cooking six course meals. I wish I had the emotional energy to spend the day scrubbing my window screens. I don’t. Would that even work? Would that distract me from the news? Probably not. What about stepping away? I am optimistic when I start the day, but falter hours later. Even with a phone and computer desperately in need of an update, the news alerts usually find me, so stepping away is not always an option. I have a sense of mourning for those who have lost their lives to this virus. I can’t step away from that and I don’t think I should. At other times, when no one is looking, I have quietly and perhaps selfishly had a sense of mourning for the life I led. I had stepped away from ballet, something I really loved, for about three months and was about to return to Finis Jhung’s ballet class at the Ailey Studios just at the time of New York City’s shutdown. One of the last moments I spent with my ballet friends was at my chamber group recital where I, along with other amateur adult classical musicians spent a Sunday afternoon in February playing beautiful music. Friends and family, including my ballet delegation, were present. I have just returned to ballet through my teacher’s live online classes. What prompted me to return was what prompted me to begin five years ago. Whatever I was doing before wasn’t completely working and I needed something else, preferably, something more profound in which I would see myself with clarity. And now? I need to move with fluidity and grace, even in a confined space. I need to listen to the ballet music that accompanies each position. I need to attempt those challenging positions with abandon and without an audience. I need to think of something else besides illness and economic collapse, even for forty-five minutes. I don’t know how or when my chamber group will meet in person and play before a live audience again. Neither do I know when I will stand at the ballet barre with another human being. But for now, all I can do is to stand in gratitude and breathe.

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