For over 40 years, Battery Dance has lived by is mission to be "artistically excellent and socially relevant." The New York company runs countless public programs around the globe and in 1982 founded the hugely popular annual Battery Dance Festival.
So it's perhaps not surprising that the company has started an initiative to bring dance to frontline healthcare workers across the country. Called Mindful Movement, these free virtual sessions last just 15 minutes and require no prior dance experience. They're designed to provide relaxation and relief from the daily stress that healthcare workers are now experiencing.
Company founder Jonathan Hollander notes that the initiative fits perfectly into the current need for "social distancing and responsible citizenship." He adds, "We're exploring what a dance company can do to improve conditions for others."
Staff members Emad Salem and Deborah Corrales originally brainstormed the idea in late March after Battery Dance TV reached some 55,000 people around the world in over 112 countries. They received buy-in from hospital administrators at leading places such as Cornell Weill Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the VA hospital in San Diego.
The classes are held on Zoom with participants attending from their work places or homes. The sessions range from early mornings to late evenings in order to accommodate workers' schedules.
"The sessions have a way of creating space and lightening what weighs us down," remarks the Dallas-based M.D. Sanjay Doddamani. Brian Martis, a psychiatrist in San Diego, adds that clinicians can integrate the classes into their daily health and exercise regimens: "They're a thoughtful and creative way to help healthcare workers with self-care."
Company member Mira Cook finds the classes particularly invigorating: "I love engaging with people through the internet. It's a more diverse array of students, and teaching for the screen causes me to consider how accessible my class is to the average person…and how to convey information clearly and with charisma."
Like many dancers now teaching online, Cook admits that not being able to see her students and adjust the class in real-time is a challenge. But even without ideal conditions, Battery Dance's Mindful Movement is offering a show of solidarity—and a bit of relief—for those who need it most.