Though classes at the 5Cs have moved online for the rest of the semester, some experiences in Claremont simply can’t be replicated remotely. For many, one of these irreplaceable activities is dancing side-by-side with teammates from the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company.
With a bit of space and the internet at their fingertips, however, CCBDC dance partners Alana Weiss PO ’22 and Christina Dong PO ’22 created the Instagram account @dancethrucovid19_ to create a virtual sense of community with teammates, friends and choreographers.
On the account, Weiss and Dong post videos of dances they learned through online dance classes.
“Once quarantine happened and [CCBDC] couldn’t compete anymore, we were kind of sad about that,” Weiss said. “But we decided to take free online dance classes together, just so it felt like we were still dancing together, even though we weren’t physically within the same area.”
Dong said they found a lot of the dance classes from an online resource.
“When we were all sent home, I was obviously really, really bummed,” Dong said. “And … someone, overnight, put together a bunch of resources online for dance classes [via Instagram]. I came across that and then just started taking a bunch of online dance classes to pass time, and also to just keep up with my dance training.”
After discovering the list of resources, Dong decided it was only appropriate to share the resources with Weiss, who was her ballroom dance partner.
Learning through videos and recording themselves dancing was something Weiss and Dong were accustomed to doing in their dance classes before social distancing.
“In a normal dance class, if there’s a combination … you [would] record the video of you dancing, and then you would post it [to record improvement],” Dong said. “So I started doing that by myself [along with Alana], and we put our two videos together to simulate an in-class environment.”
Eventually, Dong and Weiss were attending so many classes together, they felt the next step was to create a sole platform for their virtual dances.
“We were just taking so many classes and posting on our main Instagram accounts so often that we felt like we were spamming it,” Dong said. “We decided to come up with a good joint [Instagram account] to post all of our videos on.”
Although Dong and Weiss can’t dance together in the same room, they simulate the experience of dancing side-by-side by editing their videos next to each other, digitally closing the gap between the two partners as much as possible.
“We found ways to edit our videos together, so it still looks like we’re dancing together,” Weiss said. “We thought it’d be a really cute idea.”
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Dancing has kept Dong and Weiss close — not only through attending dance classes together, but through running the Instagram account and picking which dances to learn and record next.
“It definitely gives Christina and [me] a solid excuse to constantly keep in touch with each other,” Weiss said. “We messaged each other about dance classes, sending each other videos and … reacting to the exposure that the account gets, which is honestly [cool and] a little bit more than we ever expected.”
Dong said the connection with their close-knit dance community was a big reason why they created the account to begin with.
“One of the reasons why we created a dance account specifically separate from our main accounts is that it appeals directly to our dance friends and our closest friends who know that other side of us,” Dong said. “It’s really nice to know that there’s a big group of people who support your artistic side.”
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Using Instagram as a platform to share their dance videos has also allowed Dong and Weiss to interact with choreographers and other dancers.
“A lot of the choreographers and dancers that we take the classes from [are able to] comment or like our pictures [and] videos,” Dong said. “It’s been really nice to get that feedback and know that people are also enjoying it, and that we’re putting something out there that makes other people happy.”
Since both Dong and Weiss grew up dancing, it was natural for them to turn to dancing as a way to get through the social distancing measures in their hometowns.
“I’ve been dancing my entire life,” Dong said. “It’s always been there and is something that I can always rely on no matter what’s happening in life. Dancing has always been a way for me to take my mind off of things.”
Like Dong, Weiss is also using dance as a means for staying afloat amid uncharted waters of the pandemic, giving her a well-loved practice to turn to every day.
“[Dancing] definitely helps mood-wise, and [dancing] keeps me a little bit active and still doing something that I love to do,” Weiss said. “I think [dance is] what’s mainly been keeping me going for the past couple of weeks.”
Dong agreed, praising dancing’s ability to help her cope.
“We’re all just trying to get through it in our own different ways,” Dong said. “Dancing is how I get through most things, and this situation is no different.”