I recently became inspired when I stumbled on short video on Facebook featuring Deepak Chopra (MD, Founder the Chopra Foundation). He was speaking about reinvention and the clip included the following, “The worst use of imagination is anxiety. And the best use of imagination is creativity.” Those simple words stopped me in my tracks and motivated me to stop wallowing as this stay at home fatigue started to dig its claws in me.

We have all been dealing with this new way of living in various ways. For many small businesses including Dance Cavise, we have been challenged to reinvent.

Reinvent: we have heard that word so often in recent weeks with different interpretations. The dictionary offers: re-in-vent – verb Change (something) so much so that it appears to be entirely new. That’s a challenge for dance as an art as well as our dance school. By nature, dance is built on a traditional foundation.  And, our studio was founded on an unchanging philosophy we’ve believed in for 30 years so to change that much as to become unrecognizable was daunting.  Maybe there could be a compromise.  We resolved to make the “best use of our imagination”, get creative, and embrace a new way of thinking, teaching, and operating.

Within a week of the shutdown, my husband and artistic director, Joe Cavise, got to work offering virtual classes, both pre-recorded and live. We quickly realized that not only could we continue our program, but we could complete the season’s curriculum for all our students with our philosophy intact. That was exciting and was a moment we could exhale. Our greatest disappointment was realizing that there would be no formal performances this season. Writing this, I am sad as I think of the flurry of activity that would be happening in the studio right now, with showcases weeks away.  The students would be getting excited and nervous at the same time.

And now, summer is approaching, and in my house that means Camp Cavise.  I have so many wonderful memories of Camp Cavise through the years.  My own two daughters grew up at our camp and loved every minute of it, first as participants and then as counselors. I can still find Camp Cavise arts and crafts paraphernalia peeking around in their old rooms and closets. Now what? Obviously, Camp Cavise cannot not take the same form as in recent years with full original productions and field trips to Broadway…sigh…but dancers must keep dancing!  I often feel that looking to the past can give us answers to the future, so I suggested bringing back the original theme weeks such as Disney or Broadway for the younger dancers. The staff loved the idea and are currently brainstorming themes.  For the advanced dancers, it will be business as usual with intensive training throughout the summer.

Since we are not physically at the studio, the next challenge on deck was registration.  Not only did our teaching venue need to change, our administrative thinking needed to change as well so for the first time, Dance Cavise will offer on-line registration.  That is a big deal for our studio, and it forced many quick tutorials on improving our technical prowess, but who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

We are all challenged to learn, grow, and accept different approaches of moving through this new path of life in ways that are less than ideal. We are being tested for sure, but I think it is ok to fail sometimes. I have had more than my share of days exploring “the worst use of my imagination.” But I know that when I fail, it is important to get up the next day and move forward as best I can, one foot in front of the other. I try to reinvent and make the “best use of my imagination” even in small ways and sometimes I am gifted with a bonus. For instance, we created a poster for a drive by birthday visit from the road for a local niece. When would we have ever chatted under her beautiful blooming cherry trees at the bottom of her yard if not for our social distancing? My family adapted mid- week Facetime game night with my daughter who lives in DC as well as having virtual Sunday dinners together. It’s not perfect but now I actually “see” her twice a week. I love being in the kitchen and trying new recipes with my daughter who is currently at home.  We even made homemade tortillas! Who knew how easy they were to make? I may never buy them again! Even this blog forces me to expand and stretch my creativity at Dance Cavise in ways I would have never imagined 30 years ago.

But when I reflect on the definition of reinvent as to “appear to be entirely new” I need to push back a bit. Our core beings will always be the same. That holds true for Dance Cavise, we are dancers and artists, creative and passionate types. That is the core of our studio, the element you can count on and the piece that will remain the same no matter how much we must change with the times.

I am still new to this blogging thing.  My daughter reminds me to keep it personal, but it is hard to separate from Dance Cavise. It is more than just our business, it is our second home, and as my husband likes to say, “our first child.” My family missies being at the studio as much as our students.  But together we can be strong and creative and reinvent how to keep this art form that we love relevant. So onward and upward, let us all hold on to those special qualities we possess and “make the best use of our imaginations” as we keep moving forward.

Lori Cavise, Director