Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a performing artist? (community, financially, initial reactions, company shift, online class, emotions, initial cancellation reaction)
It has stopped me in my tracks, but moreso, it has taught me how many other parts of dance can just be taken away. Injuries and things can happen and you have to take a break, but this has to do with someone else's body stopping your body from moving because they were ill, or the government saying you're not an essential business, so you have to shut down. For me this is essential. Every day it is essential that I find a way to keep in touch with myself and my spirit, so that has been king of staggering. The way I can express myself, even with the people I talk to so freely and openly that aren’t dancers, is not really there, and I just feel like I can’t show up in conversations sometimes… I am nervous for the future, even the day we can go back to dance. Even when they have found a vaccine and people can go back to work, dance is so much about rolling around together and being in each other’s faces, breathing, and touching each other –– and there will be so much of a stigma about touch. I think that is a trigger and trauma I will personally have to work through. That makes me less excited to get back into the studio with others — I’m not happy to admit that, but that is a real fear and something I will have to face (but I can't wait to have to face that problem, because that means we will be in the clear from this). It has just kind of all been taken and stripped away. I am so grateful for dance keeping me in decent shape most of the time, and I am thankful my body has been training to fight and have the willpower to get through anything, whether they are injuries, viruses, etc. I am more confident in my strength and that is awesome; I'm glad I can hold onto that. Some people don't have that and that can put them in more danger than I am in.
Alysia L. Johnson is a native of Dallas, Texas and credits the beginning of her dance education to Dallas Black Dance Theater’s Academy and Booker T. Washington HSPVA along with the rest of the artistic community and culture in her city. While getting her BFA at The Juilliard School in New York City Alysia developed a skill for community engagement and received two Grants to help further dance education in her hometown. Alysia curated and moderated a program with American Ballet Theater’s Misty Copeland as well as programming the Black Student Union Events within the Juilliard Community. In 2017 Alysia directed her own inclusive-curriculum for a summer program in Dallas after two years of curating programs and has been creating education opportunities since then. Alysia became a member of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2018 and she is grateful for the welcoming and loving Chicago dance community.