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Dance in the Time of Covid-19: Megumi Yamada

A Look at How Artists Continue to Inspire...

Dance in the Time of Covid-19: Megumi Yamada

2020 has been a year of unprecedented changes. For the performing arts world, the cancellation of live performances has meant a significant loss of income for artists and venue owners around the globe.

For many people within the arts and outside of them, financial strain has been augmented by illness or the threat of it, physical isolation from loved ones, bigotry and systemic injustices that continue to ravage our world, and countless other challenges of living.

...but...

Maybe promise waits in adversity. I definitely wouldn't be turning my scripts into webcomics if the Off-Broadway theater that commissioned them wasn't dark. Yes, several shows were cancelled but this gave me time to create virtual workshops, donations, and support groups that may not have otherwise existed.

My goal in creating this series of interviews was to explore the unique ways in which artists continue to create and inspire. Whether it's the music that helps us get through the day, that movie that makes us smile a little more, or a virtual dance workshop that banishes the ennui even temporarily, art has proven to be critical in times of hardship. Perhaps the hard times are when art is needed the most.

Meet Megumi Yamada, an aerialist and modern dancer from Japan, one of the many artists reminding us that our hard times can foster opportunity, healing, and growth.

BWW: Tell us a bit about you and your artistry.

MY: I was born in Kyoto, Japan. I have over 15 years of experience in theater, dance, and circus, which I combine to create my own unique expression. As an adult I've explored yoga, budo, and belly dance. In 2013, I won first prize in the PPS Amateur Silks Division at the Premier International Aerial Tournament in Hong Kong and I moved to NYC the following year. In 2015, less than four years after I began my aerial training in Tokyo, I was selected as a finalist in the Silks Division of the U.S. Aerial Championships in NYC. Since then I've gone on to perform for several high-profile clients and productions.

BWW: What plans did you have for your artistry in 2020? What has changed?

MY: I had plans to join the Shanghai Circus, as an aerial artist, from March to December 2020. I also would've performed with King Richard's Faire and a few other live productions. All these were postponed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, opportunities for virtual performance are opening up more and more.

BWW: How are you staying creative (if you are)? How are you coping?

MY:
I continue to train at home so I'll be able to get back in the air when time comes. It hasn't been easy since I couldn't even touch any aerial equipment for six months. I've also hosted fitness classes on zoom since March for people who want to have a regimen at home and I created my YouTube fitness channel, Meg Aerial Fitness, which offers free tutorials and yoga instruction.

Teaching has really fueled my motivation and helped reduce stress physically and mentally. It feels good to know I can offer something to people during this pandemic. Talking to friends and family has also been really beneficial during this time as has finding new things to do at home.

I'm taking things step by step and I try not to judge myself. I remain optimistic that the entertainment industry will be able to recover.

BWW: Are you working otherwise? How are you supporting yourself?

MY: I'm teaching virtually and more recently I can go back to the studio to train. I got to virtually perform before an audience back in October. Other than that, I'm just taking it easy on myself.

BWW: Did any good things happen in 2020? What positives or potential are you seeing thanks to this year?

MY: I'm spending more time with family and friends than ever before. I used to not have enough time to do so. I thank 2020 for that.

BWW: What has 2020 taught you?

MY: 2020 has taught me to focus on what's really important to me, what really matters, which has helped me grow as an artist and a human. While selfishness can be a bad thing, acknowledging and honoring our desires is not inherently bad. 2020 gave me time to question and re-think what I want to offer the world. Going forward I will create art with the answers from 2020.

BWW: What advice do you have for artists who are struggling right now?

MY: 1) Don't judge yourself. 2) Share your honest feelings with others. 3) Find something that makes you happy and do it! This has been most helpful for me.

BWW: How are you feeling about and approaching the future?

MY: I will do my best in my endeavors and keep challenging myself to create art, help others, learn new things, communicate, and listen. We'll build a new future together.

BWW: Anything else?

MY:
My website is www.MegumiCircusPerformer.com.



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From This Author Olga El