Even in the depths of the pandemic – even when the world locked down, leaving billions isolated and desolated – some danced.
“I did not stop dancing for a second,” says Federico Carrizo, who competed in the Tango World Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last month. “In the kitchen, on the street, on the balcony …”
Some danced alone. Some danced alone and yet together, swaying and twirling across the internet. Some danced to be freed of the shackles of the coronavirus, if only for a moment.
“It was very hard to be for a year and a half without being able to go out to the recreation centre to dance,” says Joaquin Bruzon. “Sometimes during the quarantine at home we would dance to try to improve our spirits.”
Now, once again, the Failde Orchestra of Matanzas, Cuba, can perform danzóns like El Naranjero and Cuba Libre, A La Habana me Voy and Nievecita. And once again, Bruzon and his wife, Milagros Cousett, can glide across the dance floor.
Maybe it is because of the advent of COVID-19 vaccines. Maybe it is because feet can be repressed for just so long. But it seems that everywhere, dancers are letting loose.
At a family gathering on Topanga Beach in Malibu, California, Pejiman Sabet takes his wife, Gili, in his arms and dances in the sand. “Love is everything right now,” Gili says.
In Taytay, the Philippines, members of the INDAK Banak dance company wear masks to prepare for an upcoming competition. Abegail Mesa is overwhelmed – finally, she can dance with her friends.
In Beijing, a park is alive with plaza dancing – an activity popular with middle-aged and older women, curtailed at the pandemic’s height. “As long as I can move, I will keep dancing,” says Li Fei, a lead dancer.
In a Soweto studio, Tsimamkele Crankydy Xako practises South African dance gleefully. On a Cairo rooftop, Nadine El Gaharib spins in the air. In Gaza City, Palestinians romp in traditional uniform.
And in Oruro, Bolivia, the Diablada de Oruro dance – a fixture of the Andes for hundreds of years – is back after a one-year hiatus. Its absence was keenly felt. Dancer Andrea Hinojosa recalls how hard it was to sit at home last year and watch tapes of previous carnivals; he was elated to don the spectacular devil’s costume once more.
“Today,” he says, “the joy is back, we are dancing La Diablada again.”