Updated: May 26, 2020
I’m going to be very transparent, I’m treating this blog post as therapy session; a way for me to spitting out my thoughts and process them. There is no denying that this is a trying time for everyone. There’s no need to list the reasons, but everyone is dealing with a lot right now. I’ve certainly been going through various stages. As a dancer and artist staying at home has been especially challenging. When New York got a stay at home order I instantly panicked; what would this mean for my training, would this cause a regress in my abilities, when would I be able to audition/perform again? I decided not to dwell on these what ifs and to get to work instead. Knowing myself and how easy it is for me to fall into lazy habits without some kind of set routine, I started planning out my days and filling them with virtual dance classes, pilates workouts, teaching from home, etc… Of course I also left time for cooking and baking, watching TV, hanging out with my roommates, going for walks and other fun stuff.
The first few weeks were strange, but I did well. I kept reading about how people were struggling and was proud of the fact that I was choosing to make this quarantine thing work. I certainly went through a stage of mourning; I missed my friends, I missed the dance studio, my hectic schedule, even taking the subway every day. Regardless, I stayed productive and kept myself busy. What kept me going was the idea that this situation was necessary and in one way or another I wasn’t the only person dealing with it.
Then came some anger, specifically directed towards the politics of it all. Having spoken to my friends and family back in Italy, and with a heavy heart thinking about the horrors the country was going through, I knew that with the way things were going, this situation was going to be inevitable, but preventable. I watched New York and the US “fall” and fail in the same way Italy had. We all saw politicians dismiss the pandemic, worry about the economy over human lives and witnessed the good, but more so the bad side of humanity. With this anger also came the frustration of being “stuck” in a small apartment in Queens trying to do ballet in my kitchen while losing my balance or jamming my toe on the table.
There was then a moment of fear; while longing for my life to get back to normal I also feared that it never would. More questions came to mind like how will the dance world recover from this? Selfishly, what does this mean for my future? I feel like I was just getting used to life as a dancer in NYC and then it all got ripped away from me (not only me but all of us) for reasons beyond my control.
Excerpt from a virtual contemporary dance class offered through
Peridance and taken in my confining, tiny apartment.
With this fear came a lot of self reflection. Talking to my roommates really helped me unveil some things I was feeling but couldn’t really explain. I remember sitting in our living room after one of our group pilates sessions, while face-timing our other roommate who’s been living elsewhere during this quarantine, and having a deep conversation about everything that was running through our minds. I was able to explain this weird dissatisfaction with my hectic life; either there were things I was doing that weren’t really satisfying me, or I was doing them for the wrong reasons, or I was trying to live up to my idea of what the NYC grind was supposed to be. And while doing a million things at once seemed like a good idea at the time, I feel like I missed out on really connecting with other people, enjoying myself and the city itself rather than just trying to survive in it.
One positive thing that is coming out of this quarantine for me, is the appreciation for everyday things I took for granted, while also being able to take a break and breathe without the anxiety of missing out on anything because, perhaps for the first time ever, the whole world is on pause. I’ve been able to take walks, go on bike rides, and connect with my roommates, other friends, family and MYSELF in a way that I hadn’t been able to do before.
Right now I’m at this weird plateau where I feel oddly comfortable in this new normal while also missing life before all this. I don’t know if this makes any sense but there’s a part of me that is scared of everything reopening because I don’t know what to expect and how the world has changed as a result. Fear of the unknown is a very human thing but there is more to it than that. Again selfishly, there’s a part of me that thinks it would be easier to stay cooped up in my nest where I don’t have commitments and I don’t have the ability or possibility to fail. There’s also a part of me that doesn’t want things to go back to normal because I wasn’t really happy in the hecticness of it all, and I don’t want to fall back into that routine. On the opposing end, I feel like I'm wasting precious time that I will never get back. After hearing that the arts will be the last of the businesses to "go back to normal," it's hard to stay optimistic and maintain a sense of focus, direction and purpose. The truth is, for the arts community this is nowhere near over, and the uncertainty is what is most unnerving.
But within the darkness, light shines through. The dance community, as I'm sure other art communities as well, has come together in an exceptional and amazingly creative way. Not that I every doubted it would, but it has really shown how powerful and important of a collective it is. From zoom projects/performances, to virtual classes, I have never so felt connected to the rest of the world. Yes, I'm frustrated with the space limitations of my apartment but right when I wanna scream and kick my wall, I need to remember how lucky we are to live in a time when technology allows for such creativity and innovation to thrive.
Amidst all the "what ifs" and "what nows", one thing is clear; the world will never be the same after this. What direction it takes, however, is really up to us. If anything, the pandemic has unveiled a lot of things that don't work in our modern, everyday life. My hope is that we take this experience and what it taught us, and use it to propel us forward. Who knows, maybe a second Renaissance era awaits us on the other side.