Being stuck at home as a result of the global pandemic has been hard for everyone. But, especially for those that are actively engaged in sports or are just in love with exercise, this quarantine has posed many limits. Take ballerinas, for example. Without the grand studios to pirouette and jump in, they are limited to the couple of feet of space that they can somehow make in the corner of their room. Ballet teaches poise and grace, but by using a chair as a barre, it is impossible to finish a combination without knocking nearly every object off your shelf. And jumping or standing on pointe is only an option for those that are okay with their neighbors running up telling them to be quiet.
Despite these challenges, however, many ballet schools have made efforts to raise the spirit again, even if it means organizing ballet lessons that are online or are entirely socially distanced. Jean Ballet School, a ballet school based in Koreatown, has helped instill fun ballet learning for younger children with its alternative teaching methods. With non-contact learning, parents of these children without any ballet experience have learned how to train their child, following Jean Choi (the principal of Jean Ballet School)’s creative methods. For example, in normal circumstances, a ballet teacher would stretch their students, but parents have learned to use techniques where all they need is household items to help their children stretch out. Other examples include dancing in separate squares or open venues, like a parking lot, so that there is no chance of these students breaking the 6-feet social distancing rule. Other schools have shifted all their daily classes to practice online so that students can dance their assigned combinations and variations with the instructor watching and correcting through a computer.
Especially over the holidays,, when many ballet schools were prevented from performing their annual “Nutcracker,” some have started to make alternatives. Jean Ballet School organized an online Zoom meeting called the Covid-19 Overcoming and Healing Concert, which consisted of a collection of the pieces that students of all ages, ranging from ages 4 through 60, performed. By showcasing these students’ works and singing songs of overcoming via Zoom, Christmas felt nearly the same as the celebrations pre-quarantine. By preparing every week in order to finally film these performance pieces, many of the younger students devoted time and effort, but were also very happy. Other schools have performed their Nutcracker virtually, or on a drive-through stage that was covid-safe.
For many, Covid-19 has been discouraging. But looking at Jean Ballet School and their hard efforts to continue teaching this beautiful art is admirable. By viewing our self-quarantine as a time to learn and improve on ourselves we can get through these distressing times a lot easier. And who knows, maybe you can start ballet while you’re at it.