The dance goes on, even in isolation

How does a woman practice dance in times of social isolation? She moves the furniture back and puts on her heels. Photo courtesy Judith Tuttle.

From childhood, square dances with my family and ballet lessons taught me to appreciate involvement in dance. As an adult, Middlebury College dances and Waltz Nights with my husband only increased my love of dance—all kinds of dance. When my husband died, I cast about to find a way to continue, and about 20 years ago I joined a dance group in which competition became the means to partner dancing. For the last 12 years I have traveled to Montreal for lessons each week—until, that is, the studio closed and travel across the border into Canada was forbidden because of COVID-19.

Before the virus, I practiced daily at Charlotte Central School early mornings before the students arrived, and when being at the school without the students was forbidden because of school shootings, I practiced at the Senior Center.

How does an 81-year-old woman practice dance in times of social isolation? She moves the furniture back, puts on her heels, turns her telephone to music and carefully dances across one living room, through a vestibule and into another living room. She squeezes what used to take the whole space of a large gym onto an arc of 32 feet. She steps briefly over thresholds onto bare floor and onto rugs again. She spins from a large room through a six-foot doorway, continues to spin 10 more feet through another six-foot doorway and into the second living room.

She dances tango and Viennese waltz, samba, foxtrot and jive one after the other for the same 45-minute practice time as before. She loves the music and the movement, the exercise and the focus on balance. And she needs to remember the routines and maintain her physicality for a time in the future when the border and studio reopen.