Myles King and Meagan King
Edited by: 
Anna Prelack

Q: What has dance taught you that you have applied to your everyday life and how you engage in the world?

Megan: The importance of each unique voice. In the studio with collaborative work you need to see every voice has equal weight and that applies to life. Things like AGMA and having representatives come together to speak for the common good. We need to respect each other for any change to happen professionally and positively.

Myles: For me it has taught me about individuality. I think we often watch other dancers and try to mimic them and want to be insured by the artist onstage.  I think sometimes we want to be just like them. We can be inspired by them as well as grow into our own being. I have learned that a lot this year. For example, I have seen Graham and watched the dancers. I try to do it just like them and I don't have the same body and it just isn’t what you see.  Making it your own and tied to your own experiences will benefit you more than trying to be exactly like someone else.

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a performing artist?

Myles: At first I was at school at SUNY Purchase and the concern was how will we deal with this. The governor cancelled schools and they were sending people home but dancers and most conservatories at my school were worried about the conservatory decision to go home. A lot of dancers don't live in New York City at school.  A lot are from California and other parts of the world and it was difficult for them to sit and wait and see what the conservatory said. The conservatory was not communicating well with the students. A lot of kids were already packing up. The conservatory didn't tell us what would be the decision for a while. I live in New York, so I didn't have much of a problem and my parents could come get me. But, most of my friends don't live here. The next week we did distance planning so we split the class in half, number wise, so 10 students for an hour and the next hour 10 more students. That minimized group gatherings but we just felt it was pointless because the class hours got cut in half too. We had a very sped up class with no corrections at all. Then the next week they let us all go home if we wanted to. Most decided to go home. We weren't doing studio class.  We started online and a lot of other schools were on spring breaks but we wouldn't have break for 3 more weeks. We were able to go home and recently school made everyone go home without a choice. That is hard because a lot of people are international and can't afford to just get up and leave. This past week was our spring break. This took a toll on us artists in general because around March you need a break from school and then this happened.  We had shows being cancelled, senior projects being cancelled. One of our biggest shows is the spring concert. It was a lot to take in and our teachers learned so much from being in person. It got better when we went home. We started online class but it's hard to stay motivated and inspired online. You see the people online but it is not the same, it will never be the same as working in person with other artists. I am a sophomore at SUNY.

Meagan: I think that a lot of the pandemic has been positive. It is my senior year at Fordham BFA Ailey and I'm in my second semester senior year. I'm missing out on my senior solo and graduation concert and the actual graduation ceremony was postponed. Besides that I needed a break senior year a lot mentally and physically. When this first started I liked the ability to step back and recharge. Even though we are distant I feel like we have never been closer. I got to dance with Debbie Allon online for the first time. I have so much more access to things I never got to before. I get to take a gaga which isn't offered at Ailey. Online class allows me to take classes from people in other countries. I have been doing a lot more self care activities like reading. I normally don't have time for that. I am writing and reflecting a lot more. I am an introvert and thrive in solitude. It is making me more of an extravert. I am forcing myself to get out there and reach out to friends more. It is making me appreciate my relationships a lot more. Yes, there is death and fear with this pandemic but it is also healing the world in other ways. Relationships are being cared for much more and it is making us have more respect for humanity that we didn't have before. I have noticed the little things more like seeing neighbors I see everyday. I am appreciating the present moment a lot more now as well.

Q: What were your Initial feelings and reactions when things got cancelled?

Meagan: I couldn’t  believe it. I couldn’t believe it happened in New York City where life thrives in this bubble. Living here for 21 years I never imagined Time Square being empty, not a soul out there. It's crazy to me that it took illness to be the thing that makes us take a step back. With all different social issues that happen all around the world and that appear it took a threat to our lives that made us finally take a pause and be in a state of stillness.

Myles: I agree, and it was more of we were in the middle of a semester and time when a lot of things are happening. Shows in preparation and auditioning. In the spring, shows started to premiere and many felt it was too soon to decide to cancel things. We thought, “Oh, this will last two weeks.” Even leaving school I thought, “Is this necessary? Can we go home and come back?” When they said classes were cancelled I understood how serious this was. Our teachers even said this has never happened before and for this amount of time. Then when we were sent home we got more worried, “This is real, and what does this mean? Are we even coming back in august? Will this happen for another semester?” It can also be a relief because we have a break. We usually say we wish we had more rest during breaks and now it's a good time to rest but we don't know when we will be able to get back.

Q: What social changes and responsibilities have you seen people making during the pandemic? Do you think the pandemic will make us a more socially conscious society?

Megan: I have noticed a lot of the leading artists make it known that we need to stick together. I've never seen Tyler Peck so many videos. When you reach that point in your career it is your duty to give back. I just saw Chloe and Halle do a live concert. All these artists I never got to see live are offering the art. I think it is so healing.

Myles: I agree. We are also seeing summer intensives and events being cancelled but I'm also seeing a lot of hip hop classes coming along, other styles we don't take in school. These choreographers in the commercial world are giving classes for free. I love that because a lot of people don't have the resources to just take any class. I love to be able to be home and learn from another artist and they just want to give back. They all know we are all going through the same things and we are understanding that more. I think people also have not considered dancers are getting to take class.

Q: Using the idea of “worldmaking” how do you imagine the performing arts world after the pandemic?

Megan: Fair pay for artists. Now that we are realizing we are relying on art, people turn to Netflix. That's acting, and for singers that's music. We are one of the most underpaid professions because people don't realize our worth. We deserve equal recognition. There is more progress with this in Europe and I hope the U.S. can follow their lead with the arts.

Myles: I agree that people who aren't artists watch television and they get comfortable with the idea to just turn on the TV.  I think it gets taken as the norm and people think that we aren’t working as hard as athletes for example. I think both sides work so hard and deserve the same recognition and some think one is more challenging than the other. I think artists deserve more recognition for what we give to the community. All sports and artists give the same amount of effort to provide for the simminity.

Megan: From the inside I hope dancers have a better appreciation for being in space together. We have days where we don't want to be there. I'm at Ailey 7 days a week and I never appreciated it as much as I do right now to be dancing in a group with other artists. Being able to hold hands, be tangible, and create together again. I hope we cherish the ability that we have to do that everyday.

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