Across State Lines

Gianna Grace Photography

Rachel Seeholzer here. With so many regulations, laws, curfews, and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, it still seems either impossible or too dangerous to step outside one’s own house—much less get on a plane and fly across state lines. For me, there seemed to be no other way to achieve what I wanted at this point in my life. In August of 2019, after six years in Richmond, Virginia, I made the decision to relocate to have easier access to my parents in Los Angeles, California. 

As a 28-year-old professional dancer, my options were few and far between. I looked in major cities that had direct flights to Los Angeles for companies who would welcome a 5’8 mixed race and muscular dancer. Before the coronavirus struck, one of the two auditions I made it to was with Ballet Co.Laboratory in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Their mission to create an accessible and welcoming community pulled me in, and when I auditioned on March 9th (one week before quarantine began in Virginia) I knew I had found something unique. No less than two weeks later, they offered me a position with the company and school. 

Starting with Ballet Co.Laboratory in July seemed doable when we all still thought we would be out of quarantine by April. Of course, we all know how it went from here. The continued closures have postponed or canceled all plans, shows, camps, workshops, jobs, and vacations. As it went for so many, unemployment came my way to replace lost jobs and lost dancing time.

“In a world of algorithms, hashtags and followers, know the true importance of human connection.”

-Simi Froman

Time away from our careers and passions tends to open up our eyes to other avenues. One morning in April, I was lucky enough to wake up to a text from DDP’s director Marinna Kus. She asked our friend Cindy Case and I what would happen if we started a digital theater while live theater was closed. At first we entertained the idea, and then we latched onto it. The beauty of the idea is that all three of us live in different states and were able to create, communicate, and conduct a digital space for dancers without being in physical proximity ourselves.

Our website launched on May 25th, and a week later I was on a flight to Los Angeles to spend two months with my family before my move to Minnesota. What many forget is that unnecessary travel is discouraged and the fear of this virus is greater than many know. The airports were nearly empty and everyone wore masks. Essentially, I felt safer than being inside a grocery store. 

So here I am, creating a digital organization with close friends across state lines, flying across state lines, and planning my new life and a big move across state lines… All in the middle of a global pandemic. Many have lost so much and continue to lose everyday, and I cannot fathom the collective hurt during this time. However, I am both grateful and lucky to have what’s been presented to me.

“Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.”

-Georgia O’Keeffe

Sometimes when we are down, we think only of what has caused us pain, and we forget about our joys and accomplishments. It’s okay to put aside time to yourself and realize what you have accomplished in 2020, big or small. The world stopped so we could remember what is important in each of our lives. Whether it is human rights, our family, our friends, our careers, our health, or our passions. 

Digital Dance Project is more than just a temporary solution to a major pandemic. It is a place of connection between dancers not only across state lines, but across nations, countries, oceans, and continents. We are a home filled with dancers and choreographers of various backgrounds, and all are welcomed and appreciated. These connections have the possibility of creating friendships along with works of art and will perhaps keep the arts alive and artists employed now and even past these hard times.

As we sit idly in our homes or are slowly navigating the reopening of our cities, remember to cherish what you have accomplished and reach out past those lines to continue building connections with others.

At Digital Dance Project, we’re taking an in-depth look through dance at all the ways we connect when we are far apart. Explore with us in our digital media screening Intersections, September 4-6.

Pictured: Emily DeVito
Photographer: Anthony Goodman

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