Updated: Jan 6, 2022
"It's time to take back music, take back dance, take back art from the rock stars and celebrities and the divas."
The NYT headline immediately caught my eye Saturday morning as read it on my phone in bed. It was both alarming and personal as journalist Patricia Cohen described the plight of so many performers out of work due to the pandemic. Concerts—dead. Dance on stage—dead. Theater and shows—dead. Performance careers—dead. And being one of these performers, I relate.
As I kept reading anecdote after anecdote about how live "culture" as we know is forever being changed, a name caught my eye—Carla Glover. She's not a celebrity or a rock star or even a diva. She's a real woman from Kentucky, a musician and dancer, who has ostensibly pivoted from live gigs to online to keep doing her art despite the lockdown.
Carla and I met 5 years ago at the Augusta Heritage Festival attending American Vernacular Dance Week at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia. We immediately "hit it off" for the pure joy of learning and dancing together and our shared vision of crossing cultures.
Carla's genre of art, like my chosen genre of belly dance, is one of and for real people doing music and dance. Not watching. Not merely attending concerts. But making music. Making dance.
Though "Cultural Depression" makes a catchy headline, this hideous pandemic causing it also is offering us the opportunity to make a massive shift back to doing instead of watching. Sitting on the front porch and making music. Getting out of our chairs and learning a dance. Becoming our own celebrities as we learn a new step on our front porches.
Make culture thrive. Just one step. Just one move. Learn to dance here.
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© Jennifer Carpenter-Peak & Robert Peak, 2020