The onset of the pandemic brought a phrase that started circulating through televised and written platforms. It carried an ironic dread into our homes as if our old ways were better and perfect. This term, a “new normal,” made sense as the life we knew had suddenly changed, and a certain unknown felt constant. Our “new normal” was to establish an ounce of control in what we knew nothing about. To adapt and survive our insanity in a rapidly changing world. It sounds almost scary. Change, the future, and not knowing anything. However, I believe this “new normal” has sparked something brilliant within our current dance culture, and honestly, it’s about time.
One aspect that I admire so much about MDM is that we teach the disciplines of dance and the etiquette required for a safe and respectful space. We educate students on the importance of positivity, self-acceptance, teamwork, and physical and mental health. We believe in high standards and in curating an abundance of love for our talent, craft, and each other. So much of the entertainment and fine arts industries do not uphold these same values, but perhaps a “new normal” is shifting the scale.
In the old world, a dancer was valued according to technique, talent, strength, and presentation. While these are all suitable and fair qualities in hiring an artist, there are many directors and teachers who take qualifications a step further, perhaps a step too far. Size, shape, weight, skin tone, and gender play a role in who gets the job/ role and who does not. But now, there is a sense of a “new normal” forming in our beloved dance space, and it’s one that is in demand of strength, diversity, pay equality, and physical and mental health.
Perhaps it’s time we stop asking dancers to fit into a particular look or number. It’s time we stop thinking that a dancer of a different color would distract from the unity on stage. It’s time we even out the salary scale. And it’s time we start placing a higher value on our physical and mental needs. Making these changes throughout an entire culture that has been around for centuries will not be easy, but with endurance, education, and a new perspective, perhaps dance can be for every body.