En pointe

Miller and Boddy recover ballet technique post-pandemic



When ballerina and senior Julia Miller performs, she knows the material by heart. When she dances, each muscle in her body is engaged for a specific reason, and each step she takes is taken with precision. Nothing is left to chance, and nothing is unexpected. Unfortunately this practice cannot be applied to life; her response to COVID-19 was not something that she could rehearse until it went smoothly.

The various lockdowns stole the show from the Lauridsen Ballet Centre and robbed them of their ability to practice and perform. Now, as COVID-19 restrictions gradually lift, the studio is rebuilding community bonds and reinstating the high quality dance education and productions they once had.

Miller explained Lauridsen is not only a place that educates its dancers, but also encourages its members to take pride in learning.

“Our studio is really supportive. We’re snapping, clapping and cheering each other on,” Miller said. “We’re actually encouraged to take the younger classes, just so the little dancers have someone to look up towards and kind of envision themselves as.”

Unfortunately, when the COVID-19 lockdowns were instituted, the studio was forced to suspend in-person instruction and, like everything else, the ballet classes were held over  Zoom.

Ballet dancer and sophomore Payton Boddy thought that it was hard to feel those same community bonds and support through the screen. For Boddy, the loss of camaraderie was amplified because her family relocated from Chicago to Redondo Beach at the beginning of the lockdown. 

“It’s hard being the new kid, especially during COVID-19,” she said. “I felt very isolated.”

Both dancers were ecstatic once in-person classes resumed, but unfortunately that time away from the studio took a toll on their bodies. Most ballerinas created a set up so they could train from home, but according to Boddy, who was dancing in her cramped garage, “nothing compares to being in person.”

“It was tight. I was dancing on concrete which really weakened  my knees. I think I lost a lot of my technique in dance and my endurance,” Boddy said.

Miller also found dancing over Zoom uninspiring. 

“You really build off of teamwork and other people’s energy and drive. Not having that makes it hard to find your own personal motivation,” she said.

Although Lauridsen is now back to holding in person classes, the studio is still dealing with the consequences of the pandemic. One of the main problems facing Lauridsen and its dancers is recovering from the financial hit they took during lockdown. Like many other businesses, closing up shop was financially devastating for them.

“We had the lights off to save on electricity bills and everything,” Miller said. “It was really a shock at first because it was so different. I’m used to the bright studio where light fills the room.”

In addition, the studio also had a hard time affording a venue to hold their annual production of “The Nutcracker.”

“We usually rent the El Camino Theater,” Miller said. However she noted that due to financial struggle and their hesitancy to hold large gatherings, the Ballet Centre decided to have an in-studio production. 

To those who usually work hard on it, it is disappointing that they will not have an extravagant production this year. But there’s also a bright side to this loss. 

“My teacher says it’s a good learning experience to be able to dance so close to someone and to be fully present,” said Miller. She explained that dancing on a big stage leaves lots of room for imperfections and slacking off, but being so close to the audience doesn’t allow that.

Another benefit of having an in-studio production is the way that it unifies the community at the studio. After a long time spent apart, Boddy believes that working on the production will help boost morale and unify the community. 

“I think it’s the artistic directors [who are building the stage set up] and any parents just in general who are willing to help. It’s definitely a community effort,” she said. 

Being back in the studio has brought a renewed appreciation of community to the dancers at Lauridsen Ballet Centre. Despite the hardships they have experienced, the show must go on and they are grateful to be dancing together again. “I think in the long run, it made me more appreciative to dance in a studio, even with a mask on, just dancing around other people is great,” Boddy said.