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Arts & Culture

Connecticut Dancer Finds Creative Ways To Cope With Self-Isolation

Carolyn Paine
Carolyn Paine encourages her West End Hartford neighbors to join in singing "One Day More" from the musical "Les Miserables" from their porches.

As many people around the world hunker down in isolation, performing artists find themselves in uncharted territory. With no upcoming performances to practice for, how are they managing their time? Does creativity take over when boredom sets in?

A Connecticut dancer has found creative ways to keep practicing her art. Hartford-based Carolyn Paine is not only a dancer – she’s also a working actress and comic. As you can imagine, the events of the last couple of weeks have put her busy life on hold.

“Filming for everything is shut down, so agents and casting people sent out emails saying all projects are put on pause,” said Paine. “Obviously as a comic there are no shows to do, and this is audition season as well for professional summer theaters and things like that. So everything is just in a complete holding pattern.”

Paine said that with no daily structure, her imagination has been running wild.

“Basically, on day one of quarantine I was already losing my mind,” admitted Paine. “I was dancing around in my kitchen, and I made a silly video where I was drinking wine while doing a ballet barre using my kitchen counter. I shared it online, and a lot of people then said, ‘Oh, I am doing the same thing.’ So I got this idea to have everyone send in their videos and then edit it with a song.”

The result, which is posted on Facebook, is a montage of dancers of all shapes and sizes, and genres of dance – ballet, tap, jazz, even breakdancing. Most are dancing in isolation in their kitchens, living rooms or outside. A few are dancing together, separated by the ubiquitous 6 feet but perfectly in sync.

“I just told everyone to show how they are dancing in the time of social distancing,” said Paine. “Some people obviously took it very seriously and went outside and, on their walk, did a whole, beautiful 30 seconds worth of choreography, some people made it silly, where they’re dancing around their house vacuuming.”

Paine expects to do more dance videos, but on Sunday she took a break from that to encourage her neighbors in the West End of Hartford to join her in singing “One Day More” from the musical “Les Miserables” from their porches.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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