“How Will Our Body Adjust to a Post-Pandemic Reality?” – Polyniki Katrantsioti
Thinking about dance and its endurance through time, it is impossible not to think about how dancing is a part of our everyday lives; walking through the streets we are called to “dance” with other bystanders and perform carefully choreographed movements to avoid walking into them or the way we navigate ourselves through a busy bar or concert hall. However, through the last year, we have been called to change our mentalities in a lot of things, especially in the way we move around space. Since social gatherings, group activities, and any form of overcrowding have been frowned upon, many people might have a problem adjusting to the post-pandemic reality that awaits.
In an article published by the New York Times, Gia Kourlas examines the choreographed movements that people developed throughout the pandemic when the only freedom they had was to go outside. She argues that “the choreography of the streets [through the pandemic] has taken higher stakes”; “dance is no longer being shown live on proscenium stages, but its materiality haunts New York City” (Kourlas 2020). This choreography that Kourlas mentions in the articles includes making sure that you keep a six-feet distance from other pedestrians but also being mindful of them, since in this situation “[one is] responsible for more than just [themselves]” (Kourlas 2020).
“Walking or running in the middle of a sidewalk is no longer acceptable. Pick an edge. If passing someone from either direction, make an arc with six feet between you — just as soon after you’ve made sure the coast is clear behind you. As for running or walking side by side on a narrow path? You have to be joking. Single file.” (Kourlas 2020).
This kind of change in mentality is surely important to highlight since, especially in densely populated cities like New York City, Amsterdam, or Tokyo for instance, people have been used to walking around freely, overcrowding in lines for coffee, or being crammed up in public transportation. But my question is: will this change in the way that we “dance around space” be a thing of the past, or will it leave remnants of stress and anxiety in being in an overcrowded space? And even more so: will we be able to return to highly populated activities, like concerts and sports games? According to an article by National Geographic, “research on other moments of collective stress and anxiety suggests that the gut-level drive to socially distance might be fleeting” (Kiefer 2020). However, according to Bonanno “the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be harder to predict, because he thinks the pandemic is more like chronic stress than a sharp trauma” (Kiefer 2020). In addition to that “neuroscientist Barrett thinks that even if we remember COVID-19 clearly decades after the pandemic ends, the fears that have come along with it won’t last” (Kiefer 2020). So in a way, even though we have learned a lot about how viruses spread and what we have to avoid to stay healthy, once a few years have passed our brains will recalibrate and return to their natural, “careless” state.
- Kiefer, Philip. 2020. “Will we ever trust crowds again?” National Geographic. September 29, 2020. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/coronavirus-will-we-ever-trust-crowds-again-cvd,
- Kourlas, Gia. 2020. How We Use Our Bodies to Navigate a Pandemic. New York Times. March 31, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/arts/dance/choreographing-the-street-coronavirus.html