Not Dancing Back Into Society

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?

It’s enough.

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. 😉

9 thoughts on “Not Dancing Back Into Society

  1. Robin says:

    I’m glad to hear you’ve found some peace in the midst of the weirdness right now, even with dancing much curtailed. We’ve been very fortunate in Ohio, with dance studios reopened, and competitions back on at least a tentative track, albeit with masks and social distancing. But everything still feels strange – you can’t see anyone’s smiles on the dance floor, and my teacher has to repeat himself constantly during lessons since it’s difficult to understand his direction through the mask! But this pandemic has shown me even more to appreciate the little things in life, like more time for playing with my dog, peaceful reflection while hiking in the woods, or just practicing footwork for a routine.

    I hope you’re able to follow your dream to Maine, that sounds amazing!! It’s a beautiful state. Take care and be well.

  2. Babs says:

    I don’t see myself dancing for many months. The risk is way too great for everyone involved. I’ve had ups and downs due to health issues, when I thought I’d be done dancing. Then I got better and had almost gotten to my previous level. Then my instructor was ill for 3 months, and I had all that ground to make up. I finally got it back, then Covid. So I’ve gone thru a long grieving process of giving up dancing and at my age, who knows what will happen.

    I’m not setting any goals or expectations for dancing in the future. I hope to, but I’m not planning on it. So it goes.

      • Babs says:

        It’s odd, but I went thru the grieving process of leaving dance (I know other dancers understand that) when I got sick. Then I got excited and enjoyed it as I got better and my dancing improved. Then in late 2019 my instructor got sick (ironically it was a Covid-like illness in December thru January but they said it was type A influenza). I realized this may really be the end of my dancing. He’s a wonderful instructor and we mesh very well, but on top of that, he’s the only male instructor for 60 miles. Yeah. So I had finally accepted that at almost 65, my dance journey was ending. That was very hard, but at least I no longer felt in limbo. When he was finally well enough to dance, we only had 4 lessons when Covid hit.

        Sadly, I had gotten back in form and was ready to kick butt. Then the comps started cancelling, Then a yearly vacation I take that includes intense lessons at the studio of a terrific guy who also happens to be a 6 time World and Blackpool champion was cancelled. (It’s like getting a year’s worth of lessons in 3 weeks). I figured fate or whatever was telling me something.

        In WI few dance studios are open and lessons are cancelled at our location indefinitely. For my own sanity I’ve had to take dancing and lock it away in a little box. It hurts too much to think about it. I’m 65, I don’t know where this will go. I can hope that I’ll be dancing again, but there’s so much riding against it that I just don’t think about it. In December and January, that brought me to tears. Now I’m accepting it, but keeping a little sliver of hope there too, just in case.

        • TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo says:

          I know a lot of dancers reading this can relate to your story, including me! I’ve been seeing dance in different ways during the pandemic and how it can be a part of my life even if I was to never compete again. Just because the way you danced seems lost doesn’t mean dance itself has left you. 😘

  3. everydaybeautyinlife says:

    I feel I can empathise with that on again, off again, thing, Babs.

    Where I am, we’re lucky enough to have competitions running with nearly no restrictions whatsoever and there is nearly no Covid to be found (definitely no community transmissions for at least 3 or 4 months I think).
    Wonderful, but with the threat of our borders being opened again looming, and other locations still riddled with the virus it preys on my mind that we may go back to lock down at some point. Just when I feel we’ve reached a point in our dancing where we may make artistic headway, there is the threat it may be ripped away again.

    However, it does teach me to be happy with what I have, right here right now. And I will continue to learn this lesson in or out of lockdown.

    • Babs says:

      Your world sounds like a fantasy, almost unbelievable compared to the recklessness and spread we have here in the US. I hope and pray that your low numbers hold up. It seems human nature just can’t contain it’s recklessness. To me it’s easy, be careful, stay apart and the numbers will go down and there’ll be less suffering. Then we can continue our normal lives (as you get to do) with these extra precautions. I don’t know if the US can get to that level. I told my husband, I see only a 10% chance I’ll be dancing again. I take lessons at an art museum which has two instructors. That museum is closed indefinitely and the numbers in our county are currently low, they are steadily increasing and there’s still widespread disregard for masks and common sense measures. I’m 65, and I will do EVERYTHING in my power to prevent the problems I’ve lived with the last four years. It feels so good to be almost back to normal. As much as I love dancing, I don’t want to risk it.

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