‘Social Disdancing’ is just one of the many unusual expressions that have been added to our everyday vocabulary in recent weeks. Since efforts were intensified to curb the global spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), we have become familiar with countries being on lockdown, adhering to social distancing, and complying with requests to self-isolate or quarantine. The reality of a pandemic and the critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE) is receiving unparalleled attention during the unprecedented outbreak.
This is new terminology for an unnerving new world.
Life under lockdown is predominantly characterised by the suspension of our normal routines, enforced by government guidance to “stay at home and away from others” (also known as social or physical distancing). It is a time of immense uncertainty for everybody and the repercussions on physical health, mental health, incomes, education, careers — indeed, the socio-economic status of entire countries — are undeniable.
Under normal circumstances, dance is part of who I am. I teach ballet students. I write about dance performances. I take class, thriving in a studio with like-minded individuals and time to dedicate to myself.
Whenever any aspect of my life feels uncertain, dance becomes increasingly important to me.
Under the current abnormal circumstances, schools, studios, gyms, theatres and countless other venues and businesses are closed indefinitely. But dance is still part of who I am. And times are categorically uncertain. So, I’m dancing through this crisis. At home. And I’m not alone because the wonderful world of dance has earnestly embraced social disdancing.
We are all stars but we must learn how to shine
Each of us is an individual, blessed with different talents, qualities, experiences and perspectives. Significantly, this uniqueness means that each of us sparkles in our own way (in life as well as in ballet class!). In life, we ought to trust in the idea that dancing to your own tune is the best way to make sure you do not lose yourself while trying to be who you think you should be.
Being me involves a love of both dancing and writing. These are closely followed by a fondness for reading and a desire to discover and disseminate knowledge. When we consider these attributes, my roles as a dance writer, dance student and dance teacher suddenly make a lot of sense!
Ballet Papier is a decorative arts brand created by a mother-daughter team in Barcelona. Together, artist Berenice and her dancing daughter Ambar dedicate their time and energy to creating beautiful products and sharing their love of ballet globally. In my work with the brand, I am honoured to combine my devotion to all things ballet with my writing. Excitingly, my words are now being featured in the brand’s notebooks – a development which started with the Ballet Étoiles collection.
Let your dreams be bigger than your fears this Halloween
As darkness falls this evening, it is time to celebrate all things supernatural. While I am not an advocate of too much hocus-pocus and dislike anything very terrifying, the fun costumes and imaginative make-believe indulged in at Halloween appeal to me as a dancer and a writer.
Ballet Papier artist Berenice always has some magical treats in store for a special occasion and, this year, she has surprised fans with a spellbinding Halloween video. Featuring ballerinas dressed as black cats and a coven of good witches on broomsticks, the mini movie is a sweet spook-tacular.
You’ll be frightfully disappointed if you miss out on viewing her wonderful wizardry — particularly as the film features yours truly, Georgina Butler, as the leading black cat!
Dancer, dance teacher and artist Olivia Holland fills Georgina Butler in on how relocating to New Zealand has helped her to rediscover her passion for dance.
Olivia Holland is a graduate of the Royal Ballet School White Lodge and Elmhurst School for Dance whose professional dancing career has included contracts with Royal Ballet of Flanders (November 2011–June 2012) and Northern Ballet (July 2012–July 2015).
Ever since she started touring with Birmingham Royal Ballet while she was a student at Elmhurst, Olivia has been painting pictures inspired by her life as a dancer. These exquisite artworks are influenced by the performers she has worked with, the ballets she has danced in and the countries and theatres she has visited. A keen photographer, she has also recorded her experiences backstage in captivating snapshots.
Since Olivia last graced this site for an interview in June 2014 her entrepreneurial spirit and sense of adventure has taken her to the island nation of New Zealand, also known as the ‘Paradise of the Pacific’. Surrounded by stunning natural beauty, motivated to continue painting and newly devoted to the art of teaching, Olivia is falling in love with dancing — and the life it has given her — all over again.
[© Olivia Holland]
I have created a range of dance resources which I hope will prove to be useful for learning and teaching purposes.
Discovering dance ought to be an enlightening experience for people of all ages because the learning process never really ends. There are always new ways to think about the basics of movement, more advanced skills and qualities to develop, and emerging choreographic approaches to appreciate.
A comprehensive dance education undoubtedly requires more than a narrow focus on perfecting technique. Indeed, Martha Graham declared that “great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion”. To have passion suggests possessing a depth of understanding, interpretation and reification that can only be realised by being curious, asking questions and reflecting on what we learn.
Dancers spend countless hours practising in the studio but it is important to remember that dance as an art form does not exist in a vacuum. Everyone in the dance community — students, teachers and audiences — ought to challenge themselves to really experience the multifaceted nature of dance and keep learning. Doing so might involve delving into terpsichorean* history; examining terminology; getting acquainted with anatomy; investigating dancers, choreographers, musicians and works of note; or pursuing personal research interests.
Quite simply, using your time outside of the studio to further your subject knowledge in an alternative manner may be the best thing you can do to nurture your love of dancing.