#SocialDisDancing: A Look at Alex Wong's At-Home Dance Life
From the most famous choreographers to the newest of dance newbies, we’re all going through the same pandemic-related struggles right now. So, how are the pros coping with it all? To find out, we’re doing
an interview series, #SocialDisDancing, in which we catch up with some of your favorite dancers to see how they’re step-ball-changing their way through this unprecedented moment in dance history. This week, we chatted with “So You Think You Can Dance” All Star, former Miami City Ballet principal soloist, and social media sensation Alex Wong. (Be sure to check out Alex’s takeover of our Instagram for an inside peek at his day in the #SocialDisDancing life.)
Where are you spending this period of social distancing?
I’m with my boyfriend at home in NYC. It’s been about 40 days now.
What were you up to right before social distancing was advised?
Before this, I was in the middle of a very busy year. I was in L.A. for the most part, working on the Oscars, the Grammy Awards, and a Disney Channel TV show—and flying somewhere new every weekend to teach at conventions. I would finish rehearsal at 8 [add space]pm on Saturdays, drive to LAX, get on a red-eye flight to the east coast, land Sunday morning, teach, and then fly back. The weekend that everything got closed, I was supposed to be teaching in Boston.
What do your days look like right now?
Lately, I’ve been going with the flow. I’m on social media a lot, since that’s one thing we can all do right now. I’ve discovered that TikTok has its own ecosystem of trends. When I scroll through, yes, I’m watching it, but it’s also like I’m studying, looking for trends and things that I can get creative with.
I also make sure to exercise. My friends and I created a burpee group: we’re going to do at least 100 burpees a day for 30 days in addition to our workouts. In my mind, it makes up for the amount of walking and standing I normally do. I try to take a walk outside once in a while for my sanity, and I’ve also taken up cooking. I’ve been cleaning and doing all the household chores that I’ve never got around to. And I’m building a plant wall this week.
Have you been taking any virtual classes?
I’ve been taking Worldwide Ballet Class on Zoom. Julie Kent, Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet and former Center Stage star, has been teaching the class at least once a week. I like that it has more of a serious, company class feel. I’ve discovered a spot in my living room where if I flip my rug over my couch, I can use that as my barre. In addition to that, sometimes I’ll just watch videos and learn the combo, if I feel inspired.
What was it like teaching on Instagram Live?
It was so cool seeing people from all different countries tune in. The hardest part was creating a combo that could work for everybody. I choreographed something that barely traveled, and was mostly upper body movement. And because I have such a diverse audience, I wanted to make it appropriate for all levels, so I gave alternative versions of the choreography for beginners and advanced students. It was great to see how dancers made the combo their own.
Have you been binge-watching anything?
I’m binging on anime a lot right now. At the beginning of this I was watching “Hunter x Hunter,” and now it’s “My Hero Academia.”
How do you think the dance world will look once this is over?
This period has given people access to online training on a whole new level. But since dance is fundamentally a live art, I don’t think it’ll change the industry permanently. One of the things dancers miss so much right now is that physical and emotional energy when you’re learning alongside other people. There is a special energy you can feel during a Zoom class with people from around the world. But nothing compares to being in the same room as a bunch of dancers, doing the combo in groups with everyone cheering and supporting each other. Live performance just can’t be 100 percent replicated.
Who’s the first person you want to see after social distancing?
One of my best friends, Maira. I do a lot of funny videos with her, and she films all the videos I do on the street or in front of people. I haven’t seen her since social distancing started.
First dance class you want to take?
Any ballet class. I miss doing grand allegro and having the freedom to move as much as I want, without having to constantly reset within my space.
First place you want to go?
I was supposed to go on a trip to Peru this weekend, actually, so I would really like to make that vacation happen. Being able to travel again and go to my favorite restaurants and cafés that have been closed this whole time will be great.
Any last words of advice for your fellow dancers?
It’s definitely possible to come out of this better, stronger, more flexible, more educated than you were when it started. Many of us have more free time now than we’ve ever had in our lives, and fewer ways to waste it. With everything being online, I’ve gotten to dance with choreographers that I would have never had the opportunity to dance with. Take advantage of that access!