Inside my head I am a dancer, on the outside, more of an enthusiastic student, with dodgy knees, a modicum of rhythm and a desire to express myself physically. My busy life does not seem to afford much time for the things I love although I squeeze in as much as I can.

I was lucky enough to get involved in “Smudge” (a project with Hull Dance as part of Transgressions2019) so I was familiar with Yael Flexer’s work. I really love Yael’s teaching style, her inclusive approach and her enthusiasm for why we move. She focuses on the feelings inside that then manifest to the outside. I enjoyed this process so I guess when I heard about “Acting Our Age” I already had trust.

I am not quite in the targeted age range yet, I have a few years to go but finding myself out of work due to Covid, I was rich on time and curious.

Some may find Zoom an obstacle but I was familiar with it, although I wondered how it would detract or enhance the experience of dancing with others.

I certainly did not expect to experience what I have. I expected to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of movement, such as being able to take myself away from the real world for 45 minutes, however I have noticed two further benefits; an unexpected personal improvement in my own ability and a surprising sense of community.

By dancing in my own room, I seem to have gradually lost inhibitions that I didn’t know I had. There is no one watching so I throw myself into it. Commit more to the physicality. Take a leap of faith and actually leave the ground a little. I wasn’t aware but in class I must have had a fear of judgement that has prevented me from letting loose.

I say there’s no one watching, other than my fellow Zoomers but without our glasses, our squares are blurred anyway.

I usually have Zoom on speaker view so I can receive the instruction but at the end of the session an unusual sense of community appears for me. In gallery view we come together in a communal dance. By joining with another square, I actually feel a stronger connection than in physical class. I’m sure other dancers have little inhibitions about wrapping themselves around another in movement but for me the melting of barriers has been a slower process. Here the barriers are being dissolved in tiny boxes on a laptop screen. And it’s pleasant.

I’m dancing with people from all over the world, with different abilities. It is unlikely we would ever find a location or a room big enough for us all to meet. I also love being invited into others dance space. I now have a different relationship with my own space. When I clear the furniture back it becomes my studio. It feels like a trusted privilege to be invited into another’s virtual studio, be it gardens, bedrooms or right onto the sofa.

A final thought, it’s so much easier to get to class now, I just pop upstairs, no need to find a parking space or battle through traffic. My personal studio is ready and I am really enjoying not “Acting our Age” with my new virtual friends, in my own dance space. 

Becky Howes, July 2020