It was sunny on the roof of the Empire Hotel overlooking Lincoln Center when more than a dozen dancers today from Broadway and ballet and modern dance companies took a break from a dark year to perform in a concert produced by iHeartDance NYC, a company created this year to celebrate and support the dance artists of New York Below are photographs of the ten dances (with captions explaining who and what) and beneath that, a video of the highlights.
It was a welcome change for dancers like Chris Jarosz, who danced a duet with fellow Broadway veteran Robbie Fairchild. “I’ve only performed once since last year.” It’s been an especially tough year for dancers. “We went from 100 to zero. That’s what’s amazing about this”
As iHeartDance co-founder Kimberly Giannelli told the audience attending the fundraiser, the proceeds of which will provide financial assistance to individual dancers: “More than 75 percent of professional dancers have reported needing funds just to pay their rent…Ten percent of the professional dance force has been forced to relocate due to the high living costs in New York City, and 43 percent have said that they are seriously considering leaving the stage altogether, some of whom are here, dancing with us today.”
Are there differences, I asked her, between the effect of the pandemic on dancers as opposed to other performing artists such as actors)?
“For one, a dancer’s career is so short, and losing an entire year is very significant. A professional dancer needs to keep their body, their instrument, in incredible shape and they do this through daily ballet class, long days of rehearsals and, for many, cross trainings of some sort. Classes were moved to Zoom, and dancers had to make ballet barres out of kitchen counters and try to continue to train in their small NYC apartments, which for most, was not possible or extremely limiting. Bodies that were accustomed to moving all day long suddenly became sedentary. These are all challenges that actors have not had to face. Most dance is reliant on each other, unless a dancer is performing a solo. Partnering has a certain intimacy that can’t happen safely just yet.”
Jarosz has spent the year teaching dance, via Zoom. “I personally haven’t been able to take a lot of classes, because I live in a small apartment, and it costs a lot of money to rent studio space. So I’ve been just trying to like make up my own stuff.”
I asked him whether he’s thought about what thelong-term effects the pandemic would have on the dance world?
“If you’re trying to stay positive about it, I think we’re going to be much more grateful when we come back, not take anything for granted, and the performances and the work that will be created are going to be on a much higher level.”