Rebuilding A Community in the Midst of Covid
Covid has been with us for 6 months now: Half a year, just gone like that. We have all spent the last 26 weeks isolated at home. Though a short period in the grand scheme of things, we have lost so much in such little time.
We've lost personal friends, dance teachers, dance students, dance activity and for many, even their livelihoods. The world enters a recession that is far worse than any financial downturn we've ever seen - And we are only at the beginning in the war against Covid. For teachers, for students, for community members and for many others, the future of (partner) dancing seems bleak. Indeed, Covid-19 has created unprecedented challenges to the lives of all of us. Globally, countries are starting to open up their economy. Dance studios are restarting classes again, albeit with health and safety measures in place. For many, the same question will come to mind: Will we have a dance community to return to again? The short answer is yes. We will bounce back and return to our passion. For the majority of us, dance is just a passion project, a hobby, or a way to make friends. The long answer is again a resounding yes, but our community and industry will/has changed. I see this situation as a reminder to bring us back to why we started and fell in love with dancing. I still hold on to the hope of a better tomorrow. I know I am happy when I dance. Teachers & Community Leaders Good teachers are missionary, not mercenary. The role of teachers has changed. We need to approach our teaching methodology by not just grabbing opportunities presented to us, but more importantly, creating opportunities within the community. It is at this moment in time, when so much has been taken away from us, that we need to give more than ever. Mercenaries strive for success; Missionaries aspire to success and significance. We are back to the "Day 1" mentality. But be it day 1, or 1 day, I try to take this opportunity to improve myself. Community leaders are within us, if not us. I think of myself more as a community leader who happens to teach. I would like to take this chance to encourage dancers to use this opportunity to step up and give back to the community - To take up space and fill this vacuum we are left with. We need the next generation (you can be any age) more than ever to start paving way for a better and more equitable dance community. I choose bottom-up ideas and contributions to an aristocracy of "dance champions" any day. Compassion meets Passion
I wouldn't want to blindside dancers by pretending community building is easy. It is never easy, but a pandemic does not necessarily make it harder. That's right, read that again. What the Covid situation has done is strip out the noise, the stress and the overabundance of human politics in the arts scene. In the past 6 months, you would have seen more charity and outreach projects by celebrities and thought leaders around the world. Vogue even replaced its prestigious MET Ball with a fundraiser for up-and-coming designers. Similarly, we need to emulate such behaviour in our dance community. For those with platforms, we need to raise the voices of others who have the potential and support any positive reforms we see in the community. Be it a student who offers thoughtful suggestions or a teacher who has big dreams for the community, let's listen and lean in. To build a resilient dance community, we need to foster a culture of open-mindedness, where everyone is allowed and able to play differing roles. We need to ensure we do not lose the vibrant community we had pre-covid, where bold and innovative dreams and ideas are championed and not ignored. Fight Less and Collaborate More It is no secret that any arts scene, workplace environment or even countries can be plagued with conflict, disagreements and gutter politics. I admit that I once contributed and fed into the fire of certain wars. Covid gave me six long and incredible months of solitude. I learnt rising above it all really isn't that hard. Let's channel our past angst and stress to building our community back, and better than ever. A dance community benefits from peace. We are all capable of contributing to peace. Let's keep going at it the right way. Whenever I face a situation which I cannot control, I now tell myself to let go and move on. There are a million ways to success. I'm loving the exciting conversations I am able to have right now. Slowing down is not that bad, you might just be able to work together better. Human Mistakes & Attitude of Gratitude As we head back into the new dance world we live in, there will be some of us who will be overeager to go straight back to huge social parties and dance festivals. Obviously, we should always prioritise everyone's (not just ours) health above all else. Some of us will make mistakes, but trust me, most of us will be worried to make one. We all need to watch out for one another and be kind, especially when pointing out mistakes. The most impactful of mistakes we make are often those which hurt our friends. We must continue to strive to be a voice of reason within our communities, but beyond mere words and statements of intent, it is our actions that define us. We all need to accept accountability to our actions.
Support All Milestones Finally, we should not be afraid to applaude successes. However tiny or unassuming they may seem, every success contributes to the broader society we have. Let's support and offer words of encouragement to the successes we see. Similarly, let's share our successes with compassion. I personally enjoy listening, speaking to and watching hardworking, giving dancers doing their best. I'll applaud every dancer's training videos they post online, for they must be proud of their dance! I'll share the videos of the good work dancers around the world are doing right now, for sharing is caring <3 I'll reconsider my words when I speak, for each of us have words which carry weight. I'll work on myself before I try to correct the world, for we are all influencers in our own right ^_^ Moving Forward with Forward-Thinking Mindsets The word “compassion” refers to a sympathetic concern for others. We need to make plans and support plans that will move the community forward, not just on aggregate, but with the different groups of dancers that belong in our dance community. In reality, it is far more complex to put into words on how to build a community. I encourage both community members and community leaders to take on an active approach and support each other in various projects. Communication is a two-way street! Forward thinking mindsets translate empathy into action. To have a community each of us would be proud and excited to be a part of, is to contribute often and actively in our own little ways. Humans are inextricably wired to hope. If there's one thing we need to remember, is that all we got to do, is to do our best.
After all, isn't that just what we need?