Before the pandemic, competition was my ballroom niche. I competed primarily in American Smooth and thrived on that competition dance floor. I loved that all of the pieces of dance came together for competition – the steps, the timing, the technique, the styling, the expression, etc. All of it played a significant role in the performance.
As I traveled along my dance journey, social dancing started to lose its appeal. Showcases had helped me fulfill that dream of performing on stage and successfully making that first big push past my fear and self-doubt, but even they didn’t quite satisfy my dance appetite as time passed. Competition fulfilled my passion for ballroom and my desire to continue to challenge myself and grow as a dancer.
Now, during the pandemic, I don’t have any of those outlets. I have a single 45-minute private lesson once a week on a patio.
And you know what?
I miss competing, but I feel no rush to get back to it. I’m enjoying the time and space to explore my movement outside of the confines of a competition schedule. 2020 was supposed to be one of my biggest years for competitions, and I feel ok that my plans have been wiped away with disinfectant.
So what have I been doing with the time I’m not dancing?
Up until now, not a whole lot. As you know, I held several workshops for The Girl with the Tree Tattoo audience back in April and May. As the rest of the dance world came out with new workshops and online offers every day, I quietly stepped back and focused on my personal efforts to stay sane and healthy.
Focus itself was a difficult thing, and still is. So many different issues and causes beg for attention. And for each one, different groups insisting you see it their way.
What have I been doing when I’m not dancing? Trying to not watch the news, not get sucked into debates on social media, not stress-eat an entire bag of Twizzlers or box of macaroni and cheese in one sitting…
I’ve also been trying to stay active and eat more vegetables. For the last 17 days, I’ve been participating in a mental health awareness challenge (see the 25×25 highlight on my Instagram page). I’ve taken additional steps to make my home more sustainable/environmentally friendly, mainly by transitioning away from single-use items. I don’t talk about it a lot, but doing my part to take care of this planet is something that’s very important to me. And yes, I grit my teeth at the hypocrisy on the morning of a competition as I spray my head with chemicals. If/when I compete again, I intend to explore safer and healthier products.
Not gonna lie, much time has also been spent on the couch rewatching my movie collection or binging a series on Netflix or Hulu. The need to switch off my brain and escape into another world hits me much more frequently than before the pandemic. Functioning in the real world takes a lot more energy than it used to.
Still, the world continues to turn. I’m nearing the 5-month anniversary of my quarantine lifestyle. I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up hitting the first year anniversary. I don’t see that as a bad thing. The world hasn’t given me much reason to want to “get back out there.” Another recent pastime has been browsing real estate listings in Maine. You know, where there are far more trees than people. I’ve found some pretty cool farmhouses that come complete with barns that could be turned into amazing dance spaces!
Don’t worry, you’ll be invited to my future Maine dance retreat. Just make sure you call ahead. There may not be cell reception. 😉