As a young child, I used to get melancholy ringing in a new year. “Saying goodbye” to the old year felt like saying farewell to an old familiar friend. But like most people, I was more than ready to say goodbye and good riddance to 2020! I venture it is a year none of us will forget, with masks, social distancing and drive by birthday parades. I’m sure many spent the holidays like me, marathon zooming with loved ones that we wished we could be with. That was a tough one. Who would have thought? Everything is virtual including the world of dance performances now transformed into virtual dance performances,
Having turned the calendar to 2021, are things all that different? As far as I can see, we are still engaging in drive by birthdays, zoom meetings and virtual celebrations. We still mask up, even double masking, and we still social distance from one another. We even had a virtual Inauguration! What isn’t virtual these days?
Joe and I often find ourselves talking about how normal all this has become at Dance Cavise; how new safety procedures became routine with swift familiarity and ease; how virtual learning has become part of our everyday fabric. The students of course adapted quickly and seamlessly as children often do. This is so much harder for us old folks, don’t you think?
Being the first to admit skepticism, I thought it best to skip the Holiday Show this past December, thinking it would be difficult to pull off. Proving me wrong and with great determination, Joe forged through and produced a virtual dance performance — delighting students and parents alike. I should never have doubted. My daughter Fiona was home at that time for an extended visit. She and I of course enjoyed the dancers and the dance performance as we watched the YouTube premiere, but almost more so, we just loved watching an adorable young audience member viewing on her home device. She was bouncing and bopping to the music and dancing on the screen, leaving briefly to fetch her stuffed giraffe to join in the fun. That is what it is all about for me, Joe, and Dance Cavise, the joy on that little girl’s face. That is a powerful motivating factor and why we push on to preserve studio traditions like the holiday show, even if they need to be reinvented for today’s virtual world.
Mid-January is the time when families are used to coming into the studio for Parent’s Observation Days. Once again, Joe and I discussed cancelling as an option, but we knew the disappointment that would bring. Even though it’s just a day to view their children in a typical class, quite often I would spy parents coming to the studio armed with flowers and grandparents like it was an opening night. So, once again, Joe’s persistence prevailed. He filmed every class to offer a virtual observation day. Not ideal, but I have a feeling many parents will still be armed with flowers to present to their stars when they watch their season’s progress, even if on a streaming device.
It seems at every corner Joe and I have conversations about how to handle a new way of doing what used to be somewhat routine at the studio. Virtual dance performances are now a way of life! Next on our hit parade was how to proceed with Off Center Dance Theatre (OCDT). The heart and soul of the company is its outreach program, going into facilities and interacting with children, usually those at risk. Was it possible to do this virtually? How were these interactive workshops going to translate and would they have the same impact as being there? Well, I got my answer in spades recently as OCDT had its first virtual workshop of the season. Gathered and masked in an upstairs studio, company members beamed their energy to The Cottage School in Pleasantville. (You may have caught a glimpse on Instagram!) The heartfelt joy abounded on both sides of the screen. Youth empowering youth through dance. You could feel it, undeniably, regardless that we were connecting through the wonders of technology.
As I find myself entering this new year facing similar challenges, I no longer have that sense of melancholy as I did as a child. I now believe that a new year brings renewed hope. So Good- Bye 2020, and Hello 2021! May it bring better days for all of us! Cheers!
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