Caleb Teicher on Choosing Dance After the Pandemic
Why do I dance? I never really asked myself that question. My initial love for dance was visceral and complete; when I started as a teenager, my brain and body had found an activity that could consume my thoughts and my schedule, and I accepted that with joy. At 17, when I moved to New York City to pursue a career in dance, it became my professional identity and my purpose.
But the pandemic put so many roadblocks on that life. Locked down in my apartment, I couldn’t tap dance (too loud), and I couldn’t swing dance (no partner). There were no social dances to attend, no in-person classes to teach or take, and there certainly were no gigs that obligated me to “be” a dancer. There were very few occasions where I even felt like dancing, and so, for the first time, I didn’t.
I did other things: I played piano. I biked around New York City. I read 30 books that had sat in my home for years. I was surprised to feel satisfied by these dance-less days. Without dance, I still felt like me.
But when the world “reopened,” I returned to my usual routine of performances, dance festivals and work meetings. I was ready to do something, and work (miraculously) came back. I was eager to reconnect with my chosen family of artistic collaborators, and I was excited to become, again, a dancer.
But something has changed. I feel different—I don’t feel like the dance-obsessed pre-pandemic version of myself. My new self loves dance, but my new self also loves biking, reading and playing piano.
My first ballet teacher said to me, “Dance is a sickness of sorts. It’s not something you choose to do; it’s something you must do.” I used to agree. But now, it feels like something I choose to do, and I like that.
The decision to dance has been, and continues to be, so good for me. I’m glad I have dance; it’s the constant. It’s the lens through which I experience everything else. It’s simply the most interesting thing I’ve ever chosen to do.