Social distancing due to COVID-19 has altered life as we know it, but its impact has been especially consequential to the performing arts, says Rebecca Lazier, senior lecturer and acting director of Princeton University’s Program in Dance, on the latest episode of the “We Roar” podcast.
“On a very basic level, this is devastating to the arts community,” Lazier says. “Six months of work for some artists has just evaporated. … On the economic level, there's going to be a complete upheaval in the arts world.”
Lazier taught dance classes virtually during the spring semester from her home in Brooklyn, New York.
As a specialist in human movement, she’s acutely sensitized to the human need for both closeness and space, and she has taken keen notice of how people are negotiating their physical interactions in public.
“Here we are, as a community at large right now, all agreeing we need to stay six feet apart,” she says. “And yet when you're walking down the street, it's quite fascinating to notice in that agreement [as] two people are coming towards one another, which one is doing the six feet apartedness, and which one might be staying on a track. And at times, you catch someone's eye, and you both agree, and you do that do-si-do.”
Lazier says she and others are thinking a lot about how to keep social connectivity and socializing alive with physical distancing.
She’s noticed sparks of hope in the ways in which the performing arts community has reconvened online, though she’s concerned about fatigue people experience from being in front of screens all day. There’s also been an experience of grief for performers, like herself.
“I think the loss of audience right now is the resonating emotional loss I'm feeling overall of performance,” she says. “And I can appreciate a video of a performance, but it doesn't feel like it's the same. I definitely feel there'll be a deeper appreciation, need, hunger for dance on many levels.”