What happens when dance venues close? The dancers find a new venue. With social distancing restrictions, many artists and dancers are exploring what is to many a new frontier of digital arts online. This is bringing many new forms of collaboration, but there is also much more competition. Regardless of when we can go back to physical classes and performances, it’s likely that online classes will remain a large part of the dance industry.
I believe we are going to see a drastic shift in how we create and consume art, and so we will also need to consider new ways to show support for artists. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we can best support each other during this time. Support doesn’t need to be monetary to be valuable, and this is especially true for artists. Keep reading to find out how you can help, with or without your wallet.
Taking or Teaching Online Classes
It is clear by the abundance of online dance classes popping up that dancers miss taking and teaching classes. Participating in these classes is not a direct replacement for in-person dance classes, but it is a great way to engage with the community while we are isolated. Plus, now is a great time to try a new style of dance you may have been intimidated by (since nobody is watching!).
Donating to a Relief Fund
Keep in mind that just because some dancers can stream their lessons for free now does not mean it is the norm. Many local dance teachers are now in a position where they cannot continue with business as usual, and the world of online dance is not for everyone. I urge you to consider supporting local dance teachers and artists as well as celebrities. You can do this by donating to a relief fund that is intended to assist artists in need. For example, The American Ballet Theatre has launched the ABT Crisis Relief Fund to help sustain their artists. The Frankie Manning Foundation has also launched a similar effort for professional Lindy Hoppers who are currently out of work.
Treat Yourself to Some Swag
Now is the perfect time to grab a print from your favorite artist, or your dance studio hoodie, or sticker, or whatever product is available. There are many practice wear designers and local dance wear store that are now competing with the big online shops, so try reaching out to see if you can still order and support their business.
I’ve rarely had a ballet class that ended without a Reverance. To me, this is an essential movement of reciprocal gratitude for the entire experience. Even if you are watching a pre-recorded video, the instructor has taken their own time and resources to create something valuable for you. While you may not be able to physically bow in thanks, you can pay it forward by thanking them on social media. You can help your favorite teachers to improve their reach simply by engaging more with their content. Many local dancers are now competing in the same venues as the big names, and engagement numbers matter when it comes to those dancers being found online too. Taking actions like posting comments and questions, subscribing to their YouTube channel or blog pages or sharing posts and inviting your friends to join will help to boost the visibility of your dancers and community.
We all have the power to support others, whether in funding or through action. There is also a great power in asking for support. We are a community of dancers, and the more we all succeed, the more we all get to dance.
UPDATE: I made this post into a video for my YouTube channel! Feel free to give a watch and share with your digital dance network!
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