Despite the fact that I am "sheltering in place" as I write this, this is, indeed, a story about what dance in O.C. could look like in the decade ahead. But there's no getting around that a worldwide health emergency alters your perception.
It's making my crystal ball fog up more than usual. I joke...sort of...not really.
We don't know how long the pandemic will last. We don't know how many people will be sickened or die. The health care system could buckle and the economic damage already is enormous. Like everything else, the arts are severely strained. Canceled performances, dance seasons abruptly ended, and loss of revenue are all having a deleterious impact on companies, theaters and performers.
Yet, even with that troubling casualty list, I remain hopeful, for us and for dance. That might sound Pollyanna-ish, but experience encourages me to be optimistic. I have witnessed the arts' ability to help us rebound, to provide solace and to create community. I believe in the arts as a necessary vehicle of human expression. Art is more than a luxury; it's a human need.
Before too long - but not so soon as to be unsafe, please - we will gather together again in a theatrical setting to witness soul-nourishing performances. And that will be a time to celebrate.
My sense of what might happen to our dance community in the next 10 years has shifted and is shaped by these new unknowns. But my insights are also informed by the state of the dance community pre-Covid-19. It's important to consider that dance occurs on multiple levels - we have performances featuring top national and international groups; there's excellent dance education available; and we have some mini-festivals and homegrown companies. These differing institutions are not monolithic, and some are more mature than others.