By Haley Hilton
24 November 2020
It’s clear that COVID-19 has grossly impacted every facet of American life, but could it lead to the decentralization of the dance industry? In the wake of the pandemic, major cities saw dancers leave hot zones and epicenters for middle America—many relocating indefinitely in the face of lost income as the crisis endures. Some are wondering if this sudden scattering may alter the size and makeup of the field, leading to a geographic shift in the dance industry.
In mid-March, service organization Dance/NYC began collecting data on how COVID-19 was impacting the New York City dance landscape. While Dance/NYC did not specifically ask if dancers were migrating away from the city, some sources volunteered that information in open-ended responses. Out of 1,166 respondents, 7 percent noted they had relocated to stay with family and “escape the virus,” with additional respondents stating they were considering leaving.
The exorbitant cost of living in New York City has long plagued dancers striving to make ends meet on artist wages. With coronavirus cutting off income from performances as well as service and retail industry side hustles, the city has become unaffordable for many. Dance/NYC executive director Alejandra Duque Cifuentes fears some dancers may stop dancing altogether post-pandemic. “This crisis has highlighted the severity of income inequality,” she says. “People may need to change careers entirely in order to afford to eat.”
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