EN Pointe – Ballet Rincon Director’s Blog

Love and Dance in the Time of Coronavirus

Jennifer Neuser – April 2020

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
– Rumi

Oh, my Dear Ballet Rincon Community, how I miss us being together in our real-life studios!

Prior to the events of mid-March 2020, my intention for this edition of my quarterly blog had been on a look forward… Looking at what’s to come for our end-of-semester performances, discussing the benefits of the summer programs that the dancers were planning to attend, and thinking about maintaining focus on technique as the end of the Spring Semester draws near. But with time now standing still a little bit, I think there are many important things in this moment to talk about.

As the days developed at the start of this upended time (just two short weeks ago for Arizona), I didn’t expect for so many surprises to be awaiting. Most primarily, I didn’t expect our immediate physical world of doing things and going places to change so drastically, and that we could find ourselves as a planet so swiftly secluded from one another. In large contrast, however, I especially didn’t expect to immediately see yet more evidence of why togetherness is so important for us as human beings, not just in a dance community, but in any close community in which people share themselves with others to create beautiful ideas, things, and experiences.

As the whole world of families, friends, school and businesses is figuring out the challenges of how to stay connected via computer technology during social distancing, Ballet Rincon is deep in the thick of working to give our students the best communication of our teachers’ eyes and hearts as we can. Dance and stable wifi connection aren’t normally necessary components!

While we all feel a momentary rush of emotion when we see our students smiling faces on our device screens as we all log on, we have so many new challenges to bear. We are asking ourselves so many questions… How do we connect with these children? How do we let them know we see them, really see them, and that we are still here for them, even if we are coming to them at only eight inches tall through a computer screen?

It’s a little daunting!

Last week, while sitting in for a time to talk with our Ensemble before their online creative session together, I had a little clue in to the power of this teacher and student relationship, and how connection via video can work when it is the best option available. Before removing myself from the meeting so as to allow them privacy to create, I witnessed a beautiful thing in their first prompt. Each dancer was asked to say, aloud, a word that expressed how they were feeling and then create movement to reflect that emotion. This is a standard teaching tool used in creative dance, but in these extraordinary circumstances the result was anything but standard.

Their range of expression was great and varied, with the dancers sharing feelings of isolation from their normal lives, to a sense of joy at being reconnected with their families in ways that busy life usually doesn’t allow. To me, witnessing the movements they created felt personal, emotional, and therapeutic. (Through a web hosting platform!) I can’t help but feel it was for the dancers, too. It is a personal blessing for me to have this environment where children can feel safe and seen, where teachers are able to help their students to grow and realize who and why they are, and where parents trust and believe that our connection to their child is important.

After nearly twenty years of our time together, I feel my eyes are just opening to the power of that connection. I wouldn’t have seen it so clearly without the challenges we are facing in our current world. For that, and for all of you, I am also so very grateful.

In good health and hope, we move onward.