By Jarina Carvalho
For a translated version in Portuguese click here!
As we formulate our practical approach to ballet and dance education during COVID-19, we must not forget that creativity and innovation are fundamental principles of the arts. Necessity is the mother of invention. We must always remember to embrace the tools we have now. In the long term, accepting our current situation and adjusting to it will not only fortify our resilience, but we’ll be happier, too.
In the middle of this pandemic, I had one of the most extraordinary professional experiences of my life. It lifted my spirit high and I am still able to keep re-riding that wave whenever I think of it. It has helped me shift my thinking. It’s opened my mind to the possibilities in this new world of ballet during the time of coronavirus.
Teaching from the US to Brazil
Many moons ago I was a student of Giane Teixeira when I was still in Brazil. She was my main teacher at Ballet Vera Bublitz. She, alongside Carla Bubitz and Maria Amelia Barbosa, cultivated my teenage dance education. Fast-forward to 2020, Giane has moved back to her hometown of Farroupilha, still in Brazil, and has continued to teach her ballet craft in her sister Lizete Teixeira’s dance studio.
During one of these many long pandemic days, we ended up reconnecting via WhatsApp call. It was like time had not passed and we picked up our friendship right where we left off. Hours of conversation later, an amazing feeling of reconnection and mutual respect emerged. What a wonderful thing! To know I have a mentor that still cared and would take the time to reconnect with me was deeply moving.
We chatted a few more times, and out of those conversations emerged the possibility of a master class.
Since moving to he US, I have returned to Brazil to visit my family, but never for a professional opportunity. The possibility of teaching in my home language was very exiting! We scheduled a Zoom meeting 4:30 PM New Orleans time, 6:30 PM Farroupilha. My mother helped me by translating my Bio from English to Portuguese, as we passed along my information to all attendees. Synchronously, links were sent, and with that, all pieces of the puzzle came together, and the big event was set in motion.
It was extraordinary that I could “return home” via Zoom.
The day of the class, I opened Zoom, and window after window of Brazilian girls were popping up on my screen. The teachers logged on and introduced me. It was at that time, I had to give the disclaimer, “In the many years since I left Brazil, I have never taught a class in Portuguese! I am sure I’m going to stumble over my many English teaching habits. Just be patient with me.”
They were! Sometimes a step was half English half Portuguese, we just kept going. This was such a unique experience and I could not have hoped for a better group. Each dancer was learning and dancing from their houses in Brazil, studying ballet just like my students in New Orleans were. However, in this instance, we were going way beyond state lines; we were crossing worlds! For them, the students had the opportunity to study with a professional Brazilian ballerina who had crossed over professionally to the United States. For me, it was a return home. A full circle. It was my chance to make my old mentor proud and show her what I had learned over these many years.
This is the thing about being a mentor and having a mentor: the energy is never lost.
The energy is just transformed. Teaching Giane’s students was pure joy! This level of joy can be scarce during the time of COVID-19. I am so grateful for this experience, and how much it has helped me to keep going.
Thank you so much to Giane and Lizete for welcoming me into your school, and allowing me to teach your students. That experience has reminded me of who I am and showed me a way to maintain my creativity. There is still a lot of training I can pass on via Zoom. And after this experience, I am ready to keep it going. Are you?