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As They Wait For Their Turn To Reopen, Dancers Finding Creative Ways To Express Themselves

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As many businesses reopen and people return to work, a job that requires close contact, dance, is still a long ways from getting back on the stage.

CBS2's Natalie Duddridge recently spoke to dancers waiting in the wings.

Using their balconies, living rooms, and the outdoors, dancers are finding a new way to express themselves while studios and theaters remain closed.

"Dancers rely so much on being in close proximity and really connecting with each other and touching each other," dancer and choreographer Michael Spencer Phillips said. "I've been exploring the city, trying to find places that inspire me to do choreographed work in either open spaces or confined spaces. I've choreographed a solo in a stairwell during this time."


Phillips has danced professionally for two decades. He was on tour with Rioult Dance Company in France when the coronavirus pandemic broke out, and the troupe had to rush home.

"A handful of us were sick, unfortunately," Phillips said. "So the company ended up being furloughed, so the dancers have been on unemployment."

Performers fall under Phase 4 of New York state's re-opening timeline, but some dancers have been told studio doors could stay shut through the new year.

To make ends meet, many are teaching classes or performing online.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater put on a virtual show called "Still We Dance."

"It's a campaign that started and the notion was very clear -- still we dance. That no matter what, in the face of this pandemic, in the face of hopelessness, still we dance," Ailey artistic director Robert Battle said.

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When the curtain is eventually raised, the performance world expects to see a surge in creativity, like it did after 9/11.

"Because people were hurt, they were angry, they were fearful, and I think they felt a sense of urgency to make sure their voice was heard," Phillips said. "Dancers train their whole lives to be able to show the human experience, whether it's joy or pain or sadness, love."

Until they're formally back in the spotlight, dancers hope to see stage set-ups outdoors this summer, with solo acts instead of group performances while keeping dancers and audiences socially distanced.

So the show can go on.

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