Tenacity in Virtual Learning
by Emily Bufferd
We are entering what feels like our millionth month of pandemic times, which of course is causing most of life to be virtual, and the topic of Zoom fatigue has come up in more conversations than I can count at this point. In candor, as I’ve shared prior, I am feeling it a bit too, but I’m trying to shift my perspective on it from saying I’m "fatigued" to saying I’m "tenacious."
Why am I using the word tenacious in regards to this, one might wonder. Well, for starters, it’s what we as dancers and artists are trained to do (be tenacious, that is), and two, it’s the necessity right now. If I cannot muster my tenacity in this moment, than I will likely succumb to the fatigue. I’m not one to succumb so readily, and I’m also not actually sure it would be the better choice. Succumbing to Zoom fatigue would likely turn into a much more isolated existence for many of us, it is currently our main life line to much of the outside world, and one that provides us familiar experiences when we aren’t able to have them in person. It also would probably lend itself to many of us sitting on our couches, watching bad reality television and eating snacks. (I know I am not alone in this.)
Why I am going to do my best to instill Zoom tenacity in my students… for the same reasons I try to instill tenacity in them in the classroom; it is a life skill, a dance skill, and a means of existing fully. We ask dancers to be tenacious in their training all the time, and right now, being on Zoom is part of that.
I also believe that a shift in how we approach tenacity has been needed for a long time now. I’ve spoken on this prior, but in the past, dancers have been asked to implement their tenacity in what I very strongly feel are unhealthy ways – dancing through injury, showing up sick, etc. These ideas, while fitting the definition, are actually entirely unfair to the dancers and we know better. Is it better to ask a dancer to show up sick or injured, or is it better to ask them to power through virtual learning until it’s safe to be in-person again? For me, I do not feel they are one and the same. By asking a dancer to push through their frustration or tire of virtual learning, we are preparing them for frustration when they don’t pick up material right away in a class or rehearsal, or are working with people who teach differently than what they are used to. When we ask dancers to push through injury, we are risking their longevity for the sake of a moment; and when we ask them to show up sick, we are risking everyone in the room’s health, too. I see positives for one ask, and negatives for the other, and I’m sure we could ramble on a very long list of reasons why the idea of ‘pushing through’ can go drastically in either direction.
I’m going to do my best to keep choosing tenacity over fatigue during these trying dance times, and I hope you can find it in yourself to see the opportunities in it, too.
Also, to prevent injuries proactively, remember to wear appropriate gear while training and support your feet with dance socks.