by Winell Henriquez
Two years ago, the world changed. But, little did I know how much this change would affect me. My life and the life of others changed because of the pandemic. I remember clearly. I was rehearsing for a performance when suddenly, all the dancers were called on stage for a meeting. The meeting was assumed to be some sort of pep talk before the show and to wish us luck. But, in reality, it was the meeting that changed my life.
We were told that everything had to be shut down because of a virus, COVID-19. At first, I could not find myself to believe what was happening. There was no way that all of our hard work for the show, was gone. I had no idea how to react. I was in shock, and in denial. We were informed that the shutdown would last two weeks. Of course, I immediately knew that it was going to be much longer. What I did not know was that it would still be in our lives to this day. Everything shut down on March 13, 2020. It is now the year 2022, and people are still being affected by COVID-19.
For almost a whole year, I had to dance in my home. No one could go to the studios. Only essential things were open, like grocery stores. It was very hard to adjust to this new environment. I would never have imagined myself taking a ballet class on zoom. It was difficult to go from dancing in the studio every day, to dancing in the space of my home. But, eventually, my parents re-arranged a room in the house. They even bought a Marley floor, and a barre for me. They were very supportive the whole time. To this day, they still continue to be supportive of my passion.
During the shutdown, I definitely missed the studio so much more. I missed feeling free and being able to jump and move as big as possible. I certainly missed not worrying about running into my wall or kicking a table. But, I especially missed performing and the feeling of being on stage dancing. That feeling is just unreal and magical. I never take the stage for granted, anymore.
Prior to the world shutting down, I was always very busy with dance and school, so I never really spent time at home. Learning ballet through a computer screen, impacted me on so many levels. It made me love ballet, even more, and allowed me to grow even closer to my family. I loved that I had time to focus on myself and get stronger. Dancing at home, as well as spending time at home for so long, really changed me, and it really did make me more grateful than ever.
I realized that COVID-19 affected everyone in various ways. For me, I would say it affected me in both positive and negative ways. It was mainly positive because I was constantly surrounded by family to help and guide me through everything. The negatives were not being able to express myself on stage and not taking classes in a big space with my teachers and my peers. The pandemic really opened my eyes, for the better.
Winell Henriquez is 17 years old and has been dancing since she was four. She currently dances with the International Ballet Academy in Cary, NC. She has also danced with Campaneria Ballet School and Cary Ballet. Her next goals in life are to become a principal ballet dancer and pursue a career in marketing. She intends to attend both college and dance.