A dance in a pandemic time. A talk with freelance dancer Maria Carla Spagna
After over one year of pandemic I look back and realize how challenging it has been. Being an artist during this time means not letting fear stop your creativity, to not lose your desire to inspire and to seek inspiration, and to not give up on your dreams. As a freelance dancer I was used to going to so many different places during the day, my routine was never the same, so many rehearsals, dance classes, new projects and changes of scene. All of a sudden that was no longer my reality and I found myself having to adapt to a new everyday life. It hasn’t always been easy to find the inspiration and the motivation to dance by myself, to push myself to keep going and look for new ways of reinventing my person and artistry and create despite the worry of not knowing when life would go back to reality and the fear of not making it when that day would have come. Listening all day, every day how atrocious and savage this virus is has been a real struggle, especially being so far away from my family for such a long time. I speak to my family on the other side of the world every single day to feel that reassurance that everything is gonna be ok and that soon we will be able to hug each other again.
As dancers, we are expected to make each performance even better than our last, to tear ourselves down and rebuild ourselves, to bring out every piece of emotion. And behind all this, there’s a huge work of introspection, vulnerability, and pushing beyond the physical and mental exhaustion- driven by a tireless and unstoppable need to express and create. This insane year has brought so many feelings for everyone, and as artists, we take on the challenge of making those emotions visible with our art, so that we can offer the world hope for a new beginning. That’s what has been leading artists through this time: pain, love, fear, passion, anger, hope… anyone that thinks that art is dispensable doesn’t understand that art is actually what keeps us alive, what gives us hope and unite us all, especially in moments like this, when we are deprived of our freedom and fear for ourselves and our loved ones.
I was lucky enough to work with Forza Malizia for a while during this time; it was a struggle to rehearse and perform with masks but the joy of having the opportunity to still dance our hearts out, to bring the choreographer’s vision to life and to tell a story and bring our art to the audience made us overcome the difficulty.
I am so glad to be currently teaching Horton online for Fini Dance New York, seeing those young artists working so hard in their homes, in limited spaces and not always on proper floors but still with focus and a purpose that show beyond the screen is really inspiring.
What gave me hope on a daily basis has been seeing how resilient we are as artists, how much we have to give and no matter what happens we carry on and bring beauty into this world with care and dedication, love and altruism, passion and trust. We have a never ending flame that keeps burning inside us, a continuous mission into this world.
What I miss the most is the smell of the theater, the feeling of being in a dance studio, the energy of dancing with other fellow artists that inspire my growth and creativity. I miss the freedom of walking miles around New York City surrounded by many people, seeing the expression on their faces now covered by masks. I miss bringing a new self into my art, getting into different characters and having the opportunity to discover something new about myself in each single situation, being an inspiration for the others. I miss observing, feeling, experiencing new art. But I’m hopeful cause we all are longing for a rebirth where we won’t give anything for granted but will be able to rejoice with little things and find beauty in simplicity.
Maria Carla Spagna