As dancers, we crave to be around people. It is only natural for us to want to move together through space with others. Humans are social creatures, after all. Despite the body heat and occasional unpleasant smell, the energy that we get when we dance with others is indisputably inspiring. I always find myself in awe while watching my peers move. For a single fleeting moment, I feel alive in togetherness when I dance with people. The opportunity to connect through dance makes me feel more human and I cannot even imagine living life any other way. It was not until COVID’s mandatory quarantine that I realized I rely so much on people when it comes to dancing. I need to feel people’s energy to feel engaged and motivated in class. I also heavily rely on other people when it comes to memorizing combinations. At the end of my first Zoom ballet class, I realized that I am not a big fan of dancing alone.
Before the pandemic, living in New York did not provide a lot of opportunities to be alone. There are more than eight million people in Manhattan alone. I share an apartment with two other people and take the subway on a daily basis. Everywhere I go I see people. Looking back, the ability to be completely alone in New York may even be a privilege that only a few can afford. I never imagined in a million years that being alone would be my theme for the whole year of 2020. Being alone was scary. During quarantine, I was forced to spend so much time dancing on my own. I realized that in Zoom classes, I cannot stand behind someone else and pray that my teachers do not see my mistake during combinations. I can no longer move arbitrarily just trying to get through the day. I feel naked and seen, I have nowhere to hide. But while this experience was scary, it also presented an opportunity for me to work on my insecurities. Since there was not enough distraction to help me escape my insecurities of being a “not-good-enough” dancer, being brave was my only way out. I started to proudly own my mistakes in class and decided to work on them even more. Slowly, I no longer felt ashamed or embarrassed of myself for moving “ugly.” I started to feel more comfortable moving in my skin and grew to be more confident as a dancer as well as a person. This opportunity to work on my insecurities liberated me. I now embrace myself and my skill as it is and am starting to move with intention and honesty. I no longer hide behind someone else’s shadow and proudly claim ownership over my body and my skill. Slowly, Dancing became more than a routine; it became a practice - a way to celebrate life.
Solitude provides distance from unnecessary distractions. Hence, I was not only able to focus on my training but also able to revisit my hope and aspiration as a dance artist. Moving forward, I hope to continue to accept myself unconditionally. I aspire to be the best version of myself and will not use someone else’s achievement as my parameter for success. I also hope that during challenging times, I will have the discipline and faith to persevere; to keep on creating and voicing my artistic expression from a place of gratitude and authenticity. Moreover, dancing in solitude this past year further affirmed my love and passion for dance and the dance community. I commit to this art form more than ever. I learned how to acknowledge and see the dance industry as it is. I now understand that everything is a work in progress. I no longer feel discouraged for the flaws that dance industry has. Instead, I feel humbled and challenged to work towards change. And as the city starts to open up again, I am ready to move towards growth with a sense of humility, without judgment.