When you think about quarantine, you probably think about 2 things: sleep and when are the restrictions going to be lifted? But do you think about the climate crisis and healthcare? Ever since the world came to a standstill with trade, travel, and regular life, carbon emissions have been down an astounding 25%. Much of the ice has melted at a slower rate and although temperatures continue to rise, the climate crisis has been getting better.
On the flip side, the coronavirus has brought out the worst in our healthcare system. The world is running out of supplies, healthcare workers, and ventilators. Hospitals are overwhelmed with the amount of patients they are getting. Nurses and doctors work more hours than ever to meet the needs of every patient. They risk their lives and even catch the coronavirus in many cases.
16-year-old Marion Mattson is a ballet dancer and a part of the WA climate strike committee. Before the coronavirus, Marion was able to go to many strikes and participate in their many projects. I was fortunate enough to interview someone who has much insight on what is happening with the world right now. As both a dancer and a member, she has to balance the two things along with her schoolwork during quarantine.
After the pandemic, many things will go back to normal but at a very slow pace. I asked Marion what she thinks about the coronavirus and what new things will emerge out of this once in a lifetime sort of experience:
It was a good learning lesson. There are many reasons why I say this. We need major change to our government, things like universal healthcare, and safety nets and to address the extreme inequality in the United States. Also, climate change is one thing that has really come to light in this pandemic.
Since we have limited human contact with each other to an extreme we aren’t polluting the environment as much. This is making the climate situation better and that has been one positive thing to emerge from this.
Her work done with the WA climate strike also relates to her dancing too. During quarantine everything is online and has been a dynamic change in the way she does things. Many of her projects have gone online and her dance classes have become virtual too.
There are no in-person ballet classes anymore. Classes are now over zoom and we can’t practice in the studios at all. It is all from home.
Teachers send links to the classes every weekend and many attend the classes everyday. Many of the dance steps that take a lot of space are modified so dancers can get the same workout just in a different form. Classmates of hers use carpet areas to dance which isn’t the greatest dance floor but does the job for now.
There were also numerous shows cancelled including end of year performances that dancers worked so hard to get to. For Marion and her classmates, the end of year show was cancelled. That was one of the biggest shows to be cancelled other than the nutcracker.
Although this was devastating and frustrating to take in, it encouraged dancers to stay in shape for next year and do stretches at home. Marion highlighted some of the exercises she regularly does throughout the week.
I do normal stretches that I learned in class. These include plies, releves, tendus, the splits of course and stretching at the barre. A lot of these stretches were assigned by my teacher as she prepared us for what was to come before this all happened.
Many dance companies and dance schools are struggling right now because dance stays afloat through live performances. Right now public gatherings are prohibited in all fifty states. Dancers are teaching live zoom classes and encouraging donors and audience members to donate their tickets to them without a refund.
Some words of encouragement from Marion are to stay motivated and keep talking to families and friends even though it is very difficult to. We also need to become more aware about the issues going on with climate and healthcare. The coronavirus is just a wake up call for what problems are going on in this world that need to be addressed. Everyone has a voice and lobbies their own viewpoints which is important in our continuing fight against the coronavirus.
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