Updated: Jan 26
Defining a Generation: Graduating in the Pandemic
Without a doubt, we shall be looking back at this crucial moment, so let's meet the dancers who lived through it.
Upon graduation, the world is at your feet. But what happens when you graduate in worldwide industry shutdown caused by a pandemic?
I asked 4 recent dance school graduates to share their experience about graduating during the 2020 pandemic.
What type of dancer are you?
Rachel: I am a multilingual dancer who can communicate through several different modes and styles.
Kaylin: I am a hybrid artist, where I have trained in a variety of styles and hope to adapt my skills and training to different kinds of jobs. (Photographed Credit Rashid Shahid)
Brendan: I identify as a contemporary dancer.
Lillie: I grew up training mostly in ballet, but my heart has always been in more contemporary dance.
You are the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance class 2020. How did you manage to celebrate during the shutdown?
Kaylin: I celebrated with my best friend and classmate. Upon arrival to Dallas, Texas, we had been quarantined for two weeks and therefore were able to celebrated outdoors.
Rachel: My family threw me a virtual party where they made a video of my life from baby to now. There was also celebratory videos from my friends and family who would normally celebrate in person with me. It was a special and emotional moment.
Brendan: It felt anti-climactic. I am unsure of the world I am about to enter.
Lillie: It felt pretty weird. Luckily, I stayed in LA and was able to celebrate graduation (from a distance) with other graduates.
The future is uncertain. How long do you believe your job or training options will be affected? Are you taking any actions?
Kaylin: To be honest, it has put the majority of my current goals on hold which has been challenging and scary as I am trying to enter the professional field.
Rachel: I applied to graduate school as a back up plan so that I could be working towards something if I did not gain a company position. The Corona Virus has actually opened up opportunities because I am now able to obtain a graduate degree online from USC while moving elsewhere to continue a company position.
Brendan: I think my job prospects will be affected for a very long time. I do not know the next time I will be comfortable being in an enclosed studio with a bunch of bodies moving and sharing the same air. Honestly, probably until there is a vaccine.
Lillie: I originally hoped to pack up and move to Paris and figure it out from there. That has obviously been put on hold for the time being. I think the dance world will be affected in some ways pretty long term, but that's not to say we won't create new and exciting opportunities for ourselves.
How much are you participating in the online dance world? What role will virtual dance media play in your first steps into the dance industry?
Kaylin: I participate frequently by taking daily classes over Zoom/Instagram Live to keep up my training and sometimes teaching over Zoom. My virtual world and real-life are somewhat combined as I am still able to interact with those I need and want to, but my training in quarantine is still very limited compared to what I was used to.
However, this virtual sharing is allowing us to take classes and interact with people from all over the world that we probably would have never had the opportunity to engage with prior to social distancing. This offers new perspectives and could hopefully lead to future connections.
Rachell: I take classes via zoom and on Instagram. I also watch performances often both from theater views and those that have been adapted. I think the future of dance will continue to do what it has always done - react and adapt.
Dance, at the end of the day, is freedom. Whether it is in the theater or in your home, people will continue to do it. I would love for it to be government funded and for organizations and their corresponding artists who are suffering right now to be compensated.
I pray that the events continue, people can gather and spaces again, and that we find ways to bounce back like the rest of the economy whether that's this summer, next summer, etc.
Brendan: I have taken a step back from virtual dance because I do not like taking class from home. Instead, I have been doing at home cross training of different forms like HIIT workouts and yoga. I am interested to see how dance will resurface. I think the company format will change, I think freelancing will be a lot more common because there will be less money for the arts for a while until the economy recovers from the losses of COVID-19. I think virtual dance will be a lot more present and a more common form of presentation of the art form.
Lillie: I must admit, I haven't been participating much in the virtual dance world. I've always struggled a bit with sharing dance content via social media and for me, watching dance on a screen will never be the same as watching dance live. However, for my senior project at USC, I created an online platform, Pas de Chit Chat, where, via Zoom, I've hosted and posted discussions with my peers on topics surrounding dance. Previously, I didn't plan a future for the site beyond my graduation, but I think now is a perfect time to continue and expand upon it!
I am sure it will be quite the tale to tell the next generation. Final Thoughts?
Kaylin: Even though it’s been a tough, I believe we will come out the other end stronger than ever, more appreciate for what we do, and gain even more of a drive to pursue our passions. I know I will. Instagram: kaylin_s
Rachel: This time is not necessarily a setback or something to count down until we can go back to "x". This is a powerful time to create a new path even more than before. That is a what I am looking forward to and what I wish for everyone else as well.
Brendan: I am excited for the time I can perform and dance with people that I love again. My Instagram is @brendan.evans
Lillie: I love the accessibility of dance right now. Being able to watch master works or take class from teachers worldwide is really special. I also love dancers' willingness to adjust and improvise their entire career and life. We truly are so adaptable on stage and off! Join my Conversations under Quarantine at www.pasdechitchat.com and @lillie.pincus.
I am impressed by the honesty, patience, and strength of next generation graduating from USC Kaufman. Thank you for sharing your story! Your opinions are echoed by hundreds across the country. I agree with Rachel's sentiment, "This is a powerful time to create a new path...".