Cafés and restaurants are steadily redesigning their interiors to make them COVID compatible. Supermarkets offer disinfectants. Even theaters can rearrange their performances to maintain healthier distances between actors, and can ban human touch from their plays. Dancers find this readjustment more difficult. What would it even mean to hold a performance with 30 dancers observing social distancing? These protocols, after all, are about more than physical distancing; as we see, they are about the very absence of the relationships created by placing bodies in the same space. The future seems to lie with an increasingly solitary form of dance. Solos and monologues will flourish; the lone dancer is bound to become the figure of a new aesthetics. Beautiful work has been done in this tradition, but it is not exhaustive of choreography as a whole.
It feels cheap to proclaim one’s sadness in the face of this state of affairs. It would be healthy, however, to at least remember that things have not always been this way, will not always be this way, and might not always have to be this way. Dance is an exercise in sociability, maybe one of the most interesting exercises in sociability; and it is sociability which will have to return once all of this is over. In this sense, dance is both a prohibition and promise—something to look forward to.
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker