During the Pandemic...
COMPILED BY SIMA SADYKHOV AND DAVID GETCHELL
Befriending a Unicorn by Matt Sorrentino. See Matt's story below.
American Dancer sent out a notice asking members how they used their time while unable to pursue their normal competitive or social dancing. We heard from quite a few of you and were surprised at the range of activities represented. We have collected some of those below. If you are interested in keeping this going for another issue, send your submissions here. We request you send one picture or video and limit your story to 100 words or less.
Jon Chow of the NorCal chapter: “I stopped playing golf and did not touch my clubs for five years to devote more time and energy to dancing. I thought I would never play again. But when competition dancing stopped due to the virus, I started playing again. To my surprise, I actually play better now than ever before — maybe the movement techniques and balance I learned from dancing carries over to golf.”
Mike and Ann from Central Pennsylvania say: “My wife and I have been avid ballroom dancers for well over a decade. We take lessons regularly and attend many social dances and, of course, USA Dance chapter events. When lockdown started in March, our dance studio no longer had in-person dances. But the owner quickly put on free Zoom dance events on a weekly basis during the Summer months and many of us joined.
“My name is Erica Lawler. I am a member of the Tri-Cities USA Dance Chapter #6060 and live outside of Richmond, Virginia. I’ve spent a lot more time with my dairy goat herd this year as a result of the pandemic. Goats aren’t much for dancing, but they are very lively! In tough times, there’s nothing so uplifting as a group of spring kids frolicking and leaping off of every surface in sight. I took advantage of the extra time at home by learning how to make two new cheeses this summer: feta and mozzarella. Our chapter usually serves refreshments at our dances so perhaps when we’re all back together on the dance floor, there will be some homemade cheese over on the snack table!”
Rod and Ann Hart have hunkered down and are trying to weather the virus storm. “We occasionally push the furniture around and practice dance steps in our living room. I (as you will see in the video) hunt for focus groups to serve on, increase my volunteer work at a local food bank, or try to find projects to do as in this video that I’m making for my electric company.”
Julia and Bill Wacker
Heartland, Carmel Dance Studio, Carmel, Indiana
“Dancing keeps us in shape for skiing, and skiing for dancing; walking 1.5 – 2 miles five times per week is a big help in allowing us to do both!
“Thanks to Roger and Amy, and all other USA and Heartland officers and volunteers for your work! Bah Humbug to the virus, Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year to all!”
Lolita Brawner, president of chapter #6010, sends this story.
From Dancing to Puppy Love!
Written by Rebecca Kelley-Fournier
Tallahassee Chapter 6010 and Chapter 6010 Kidz has two young men, Jacob and Zachary Fournier, ages 9 and 11, respectively, who have embraced the ballroom dance life. Eager to dance the night away with ladies, young and old. Bringing smiles to faces with every dance step. But with COVID, virtual school, and dance coming to a screeching halt, they wanted to do something for their community and to keep busy.
“I’m Lisa-Anice Sutphen the lead and founder of Dance and Fitness Concepts and a USA Dance Member from the San Francisco Bay Area.
“I managed to switch a number of clients online for Restorative Training, and that’s kept up with basic bills. We’ll be starting classes in Dance Technique, yoga, Pilates, and chair fitness in January. Gotta get rid of those COVID pounds!”
From Gokturk Yurtyapan of the Seattle Chapter: “I always loved the sheer joy of wind that blows through my hair and the immediate, pure happiness I feel speeding, gliding on a small piece of board under my feet. I loved Snowboarding! It was fun, it was outdoors, it helped me to discover new places and the joy of being fast.
Ken Richards writes: “When the pandemic closed the BlueBallRoom in Wilmington, Delaware, Johny Postolachi, professional member of USA Dance, kept his students engaged with weekly Zoom lessons. He even pulled a number of them together to produce a solo-formation video, to the Aretha Franklin song, “Who’s Zooming Who”.
Karen and Gary from Portland, Oregon – “We are a couple in our mid-60s. We took our first dance steps, under our beloved coach Anya Klimova-Preston, in our early 50s and competed joyfully in standard and Latin for 15 yrs. We retired just over a year ago and began learning to social dance. We took bachata and salsa at a Portland studio and asked the instructor, Eugene Yeboah, for private lessons. COVID hit, the studio closed, and we worked at staying outside as much as possible. Why not dance in the park? Eugene liked the idea and had a dance mat. Over the summer and into the fall, we danced in a local park relearning most of our Latin and standard dances for social settings on small floors. We were able to move our furniture around, in our small living room, so we have a practice floor. Dancing has been an amazing journey in our lives, working together, bringing joy, keeping us active and keeping our spirits up during these difficult times.”
Senior III competitors Mike and Rose-Ann Lynch (MidAtlantic Chapter) wasted no time finding a dance space during the pandemic. They cleared the basement and put in a metallic epoxy floor with mirrors, so they could practice. “It is the next-best thing to a studio, and we can dance whenever we want. We also remain active and consistent in our daily routine: walking the dogs, running, and good-old-fashioned Marine Corps sit-ups and push-ups.”
“My name is Raya Ilieva and I’m eleven years old. I love dancing, writing, reading, and spending time outdoors. I’m a competitive ballroom dancer, and since my dance partner is fourteen, we compete in Junior II (although technically I should be in Preteen II). My mom is Ellie Pojarska. I live in Belmont, CA, but dance at Dance Vita Ballroom in San Mateo. In the spring, for a few months the studio was completely closed and we were conducting lessons via Zoom. Here’s a piece I wrote entitled, “Dancing During Quarantine”
Gil and Jan Berenguer of the Charleston Chapter told us: “My wife and I live outside of Charleston in a 55-and-up community. We are fortunate that the community has a dance floor. Since the community has not been having social dances we have been able to use the floor for practice. We also found an online ballroom dance class. We can honestly say we have danced more since the pandemic than before it happened. Our dance club has since opened up the floor for rental, so we have also been going there. That being said, we do miss the the social part of dancing and hope to an end to this pandemic. Hope everyone is safe and practicing social distancing.”
Na and Ivan Parra of the NorCal chapter said of their son:
When life hands you a lemon, make lemon-aid. After exhausting every non-surgical method for managing advanced osteo-arthritis in both hips over the last five years, Antoinette Datoc (Greater Atlanta Chapter # 6005) decided to use the pandemic-related suspension in dance competitions to undergo bilateral hip replacement surgery on October 16 and December 29.
Hips Don’t Lie!
In his plentiful free time due to COVID quarantine, Donovan Kirrane picked up shoe shining and shoe restoration as a way to keep busy and get creative! To stay physically fit and COVID safe, Donovan and his partner Olga endeavored the Massachusetts Midstate Trail. They hiked 57.7 miles leaving only 31 to go in the next season!
From Fancesca Fortunato of New York City, “I’m a new member of USA Dance. Joining was an act of faith and hope, for my future as a DanceSport athlete. I live in New York City and compete at Silver level (senior C) in Standard. Before COVID, I was taking group classes and privates with independent teachers at Ballroom Hub, a rental space for Ballroom students and teachers in Manhattan. I had just done my first amateur competition in May of 2019, partnered by a higher-level amateur teacher (Sam Wert). I was excited about continuing in the Amateur Ballroom World.”
Lisa Sandoval from the Los Angeles Chapter writes: “My 17-year-old son Cory and his best friend Heidi Young (both members of our high school dance team) have continued to make it work. They meet their talented West Coast Swing dance partners, who live in Arizona, at the halfway mark in Redlands, CA (home of the Schwimmer’s Dance Center) to continue to practice and move forward.
USA Dance member, Lilian Paternostre writes:
” I received a phone call in May: “Hi, are you interested in taking over the studio?” I was completely blanking. “What? How? What do you mean?” My good old dance studio, where my husband and I started 10 years ago, and which has been our happy place, safe-haven, and where I discovered my passion for dance, was possibly endangered — a victim of the COVID pandemic? It took me but a few seconds to decide to do whatever possible for its continuation!