Still Dancing: A Year of Coronavirus Coverage
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Over the past year, a significant portion of Dance Magazine‘s coverage has been dedicated to how the dance industry has dealt (and continues to deal) with these unprecedented challenges. To date, we’ve published more than 140 stories related to the virus.
With a more promising future now on the horizon, as vaccine distribution enables a path to reopening safely, we’re looking back on some of the stories that most resonated with the dance community. From resources for artists to first-hand accounts and tips for at-home training, here’s a month-by-month snapshot of Dance Magazine‘s coronavirus coverage.
On March 2, Dance Magazine published its first story on the coronavirus: a resource list for the dance community. It initially functioned as a catch-all for everything COVID, and we naively thought it might be our sole point of coverage—but that soon changed.
Then came a flood of stories, as the industry was faced with the unthinkable: a temporary, two-week shutdown of studios and theaters in most cities and states. Our articles spanned from practical advice (where to take class online and grocery finds to give your immune system a boost) to the sobering fallout the dance world was facing (the financial impact on organizations and ways to help out-of-work artists).
Senior editor Courtney Escoyne began the enormous task of chronologically documenting all the performances that were canceled or postponed. She continues to update it to this day.
HOLY at NYU Skirball in April 2020 was canceled. Daniel Robinson, Courtesy Helene Davis Public Relations
Still not knowing how long the shutdown would last, we turned to athletic trainer Joshua Honrado, MS, for tips on how dancers could stay performance-ready while training at home, and we answered your questions about filing for unemployment.
Also in April, we remembered iconic ballet teacher Wilhelm “Willy” Burmann, who died of renal failure on March 31 after complications from the coronavirus. Burmann was one of many artists who would lose their lives to COVID-19.
We started tackling the big questions, wondering how we could radically reimagine the dance world post-coronavirus. Alice Sheppard, Wendy Whelan, Miguel Gutierrez and many others weighed in.
Come May, dancers who’d been through a company closure pre-COVID lent their advice to those who feared they might be next. But there were also moments of inspiration, like the viral Swans for Relief fundraiser, featuring 32 ballet dancers from 14 countries performing “The Dying Swan” in isolation.
Because restrictions varied state by state, a limited number of dancers found themselves back in the studio (if only momentarily). We shared safety tips for socially distanced returns to rehearsal.
As companies grappled with significant revenue loss, many opted to hold online galas instead of canceling altogether. We shared the dos and don’ts of putting on a virtual gala with pointers from the pros.
With summer upon us, more artists took their cross-training outside, and we offered dancer-friendly conditioning options, highlighting special considerations for dealing with hot temps and hard surfaces.
Meanwhile, some companies started performing again (mainly in Europe and Asia), and Dance Magazine explored the risks of reopening, as well as what dancers could do if they didn’t feel safe returning to the studio.
Once face coverings became the new norm, we asked medical experts and dancewear manufacturers what to look for in a mask—especially ones you could dance in.
Several months in, burnout from life in isolation seemed unavoidable. We polled dance pros on how their ideas of self-care had evolved.
By the end of summer, much of our coverage explored the unexpected ways that COVID-19 had changed our community: As adults stayed home with their children, artmaking and parenting overlapped in ways both surprising and frustrating; one dancer reflected on how complications related to the coronavirus weakened her body; as we watched more virtual programming, we realized just how powerful physical touch can be in dance—and how much we’d been missing it.
The fall presented new challenges. How were dance organizations approaching season planning when so much remained up in the air?
Six months into the shutdown, we celebrated the countless ways artists had stepped up to serve others in need, from sewing masks to serving food to hosting blood drives.
For some performers, 2020 was especially bittersweet. In October, Broadway dancer Brian Spitulnik wrote about the possibility that his time onstage may have run its course, and Ailey dancer Hope Boykin shared her experience of retiring from the stage and refocusing her creativity on choreographic projects.
As the year drew to a close, we explored how coronavirus affected some of dance’s (previously) most rock-solid bets, like the concentration of dancers in major hubs like New York City and perennial Nutcracker runs. Dancers seemed to be leaving town in large numbers, and, for the most part, stages remained dark.
We also wondered, had COVID changed studio life forever? Namely, were virtual classes here to stay?
We continued our coverage on how the pandemic was impacting dancers’ physical and mental health, providing a roadmap for returning to dance after you’d had COVID-19 and tips for dealing with seasonal affective disorder.
Throughout the shutdown, immigrant artists in the U.S. faced additional challenges as they struggled to secure work and remain in the country. We spoke with several artists who shed light on their situations.
When the new year arrived, we cautiously looked toward the future, asking what musicals might light up marquees once Broadway reopens.
On a more practical note, the pandemic was still having a major impact on the 2021 summer study season, causing the majority of programs to hold auditions virtually. We shared our top tips for trying out from home.
In February, we celebrated the resilience of the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers as the group prepared to hold its 46th-annual powwow, albeit virtually.
The pandemic also welcomed many former dancers back into the fold, including Emily DeMaioNewton who shared how, as a nonbinary dancer, virtual ballet classes offered them a glimpse of more gender-inclusive training.
We also reflected on months of online dancemaking and what the rush to go virtual revealed about our field.
Now a year in, the dance community is still here. We are tired, but we are hopeful and resilient. We have even found some silver linings in how this pandemic has changed our industry for the better.