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Dancer in Lockdown: On the Internet & Learning

"...there is this feeling of knowledge and experience being released from the confines of time and space, and it is so exciting!"


WE'RE LIVING IN a pretty good time for a lockdown. Our friends and family remain at our fingertips, we can get almost anything delivered straight to our doors and we have access to information on basically everything we could ever imagine. 

As we’ve settled into a life lived mostly in our homes, dancers and teachers we have often watched from afar have started to explore different ways of connecting with students. And in releasing the condition of being physically in the same space as the teacher, sometimes not even being present at the same time, a whole new world of possibilities is being realised. 

Suddenly I’m able to take classes with my favourite odissi dancer in Moscow whom I’ve been drooling over on Instagram for the longest time; with my Canadian dance friend and inspiration, whose rigorous approach to inclusive and accessible modern dance techniques has made me dream of taking classes with her for years; and with one of the great knowledge holders of odissi in India learning an iconic Ashtapadi … and then there are amazing pilates and barre classes on YouTube, and all the other paid/free/donation-based offerings that I see and am tempted by. After the initial period of lockdown where I could barely motivate myself to move, I find myself having to remind myself to slow down and not overload myself. 

I’ve been loving these developments in the ways we learn and absorb dance. Of course, online classes, especially in dance which requires a lot of close observation to absorb nuances and subtleties, are no substitute for in person classes. But this flexibility to learn from teachers we have long admired from wherever we are, and, when classes are recorded, to learn whenever we want, has been revolutionary for me. I’ve been able to sink deeper into absorption in my own time and in a state of calm. Being able to pause and rewind is pretty handy too. 

Maybe it’s because I’ve never really studied with a teacher at a weekly digestible pace till now, that I am particularly savouring it. Seeking the teachers that inspire me for intensive training in India is one thing, and intensive workshops in Europe are another. Sometimes there hasn’t been much time to digest during the learning process. And life gives me less time now to spend months in India immersing myself in movement. It’s all been packed in tightly in recent years. It’s been wonderful to experience learning at a healthy pace again. 

As more teachers discover how to make formats that work in sustainable ways for them, there is this feeling of knowledge and experience being released from the confines of time and space, and it is so exciting! And it makes me feel grateful and hopeful in a strange way for the silver linings of the pandemic. I hope that the positive elements that have been brought about by the lockdown continue even when this period is a memory, and that we can continue to grow the global pool of collective knowledge and understanding for the benefit of all.