More Than a Room: The Dance Studio is a Part of Us


October 26, 2020


Culture, Entertainment


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Dancers laugh and play during a pre-COVID-19 rehearsal. [Credit: Sarah Parker]

(NEW YORK) — For me as a dancer, it’s the energy: the animated particles bouncing around from one body to the next. They’re felt in loud, spirited sessions, but just as easily during introspective moments. They shoot out in movement as we fly through space and trickle out in brainwaves as we watch, listen, challenge, and learn. The air is constantly buzzing. 

A dance studio is more than a room. It’s a communal home. Inside, we go from being alone to being together. The parts become a whole. 

The energy generated within those four walls may remain an elusive concept to anyone on the outside. But to those of us who know it well, it’s our life force. The indescribable thing that sustains us through the tiresome ups and downs of our industry. It’s how we connect, how we emote, how we grow. It’s the wavelength on which we can be our truest selves. 

So now more than ever, after six months of solitude, we are thirsty for another sip.  

I spoke with other members of the arts industry to see what it is they miss most about being in the studio. Although their stories are different, I could sense the heartache in their longing for creative connection.

Jesse Kovarsky (Associate Choreographer, The Band’s Visit): I miss moving beyond my own instincts. I miss learning, observing, and grooving with other bodies. I miss touch and weight. Resistance and flow. I’m bored of myself, and I very much need other bodies to bring out different creative choices, offering new obstacles to tackle and options to produce.

Jacob Guzman (Chino, West Side Story): Space to travel! 

Kamille Upshaw (Ensemble, Fly): Human connection and hands-on creativity.

Danny Burstein (Seven-time Tony Nominated Actor): I miss watching my friends shine. I miss watching them soar. I miss the immediacy of watching them push themselves to greater heights. I miss being in the room to witness the beauty of our art form. I miss the friendship and mutual respect. And I miss the laughter of so many beautiful faces.

Katherine Roarty (Dancer, The Met Opera): I miss playing. And knowing people so well, you can build trust without saying much. Living in a space with good music and losing track of time.

Dancers hugging inside dance studio

Dancers hug each other before a break. [Credit: Sarah Parker]

Jon Ole Olstad (Teacher/Choreographer): The coffee talk after.

Mattie Love (Ensemble, Wicked): Learning by watching. Dodging poles in the room instead of furniture.

SarahGrace Mariani (Meg Giry, Phantom of the Opera): I miss the feeling of flying. I miss seeing magic in my friends and their movement. I miss knowing we all had a common goal and dream. Those goals and dreams felt real and attainable.

Maleek Washington (Freelance Dancer/Choreographer): That push to keep pushing. 

Katie Mattar (Dancer, Royal Caribbean): The vibe. The shared passion about something. The friendly competition.

Matthew Tiberi (Swing/Dance Captain, Once Upon a One More Time): Honestly, the studio was my social life. I rarely go out, and the studio was how I got to see all of my favorite people and see them shine in their element.

Michelle Fletcher (Founder, Here Now Dance): Space. Neutral space. Blank space.

KC Castellano (Teacher, Broadway Dance Center): Dancing in solitude has its advantages, but being surrounded by different energies, bodies, minds, hearts… It emphasizes the connection art has on us as humans. It connects us. So while training is sometimes best done alone, thriving, exploring, developing, and soaring are done together.

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