In the Loop
Student Stories : Apr 15, 2020

Creating to cope

Graduating dance student processes quarantine by exploring broader interests in the arts


“I heard on an Instagram live, one of the dancers said, ‘It’s not where you want to be - it’s where you are now.’  And so, for right now, that's what I'm trying to make the most.”

Like many seniors, Emma Anne Wedemeyer had big plans for her last spring semester. She was set to perform her senior solo in the BFA dance showcase, graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance this summer, and move to New York City after graduation. But her plans for the future were met with an unexpected interruption. 

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Wedemeyer said, “but I also know myself and I’m very grateful for all the performance opportunities that I have had over the past few years and even this past semester.”

Between juggling the rigorous dance curriculum and her recent involvement with the Harn Museum of Art as their choreographer in residence, Wedemeyer was accustomed to life with a bustling schedule. 

“Normally I'm never at home, much like other people who are part of the major,” she said. “Now that we’re in the current situation, and I'm kind of within the walls of my very small room, I still have this abundance of energy.”

In adjusting to this new pace, Wedemeyer felt new feelings of inspiration from home, a place she’d known but never spent much time in.

“I have this really beautiful shower curtain that I've always thought, ‘You know, I would love to do something with that,’” she said. 

Wedemeyer was intrigued by a popular post on Instagram that suggested ways in which drinking water could eliminate COVID-19 from a person’s system. She gathered the film equipment she had—at the time, only her iPhone and laptop—and started moving and dancing to a song she often heard in a class warm-up, pre-quarantine days. In her small, fluorescently-lit bathroom, her new dance film “Drink: A Self-Quarantine Study” was born.

Wedemeyer submitted her short film to festivals and exhibitions that have risen from the crisis, like Quarantine Diaries, where she was the first artist to be featured. Posting it on social media and encouraging other creatives to join her #selfquarantinestudy series, Wedemeyer was instantly met with an overwhelmingly positive response from her peers. 

“It’s been the most exciting, heart-warming thing that could ever happen,” she said. 

“We put ourselves out there and we don’t know, in another person’s eye, how our work will be perceived. But being able to share something and it have such a positive response—I don’t want to say it keeps you going because even negative feedback can still motivate and keep you going in a way—but seeing people create their own work and have that experience is such a beautiful thing.”

As Wedemeyer continues her #selfquarantinestudies series, she’s hoping to “open up the gaze” of where dance and art can be seen and created. In channeling her creativity, she is also challenging herself in mediums she hasn’t explored in depth before, like photography. 

“Home is such a safe space for trial and error, so I’m just trying to learn,” she said. “I have the time now to invest in these new skills, which is exciting for me.”

“But it’s not always that,” she added, “there are moments of needing to self-reflect and reach out to those who I love and those I want to extend communication with.”

In some ways, Wedemeyer has felt like her passion for the arts and her studies in dance have made her better equipped to handle our current situation. 

“As artists, we sort of prepare for these moments: rallying together, creating and sharing, uplifting, and informing,” she said. “When times change, the space changes, the stage changes—but there is still that wanting to share and create.”

Wedemeyer acknowledged the privilege of having tools to construct her artistic vision for #selfqaurantienstudies as well as the emotional capacity to create in these extraordinary times. 

“I am safe. I have food. I have time to allow myself to indulge in my creative needs,” she said. “There are hundreds of beautifully talented artists struggling right now, and they are coping in different ways. And for those unable to even fathom the idea of creation, they need to know that they are valued and not less of an artist for not creating during this time. It is hard and it is scary right now.” 

But for Wedemeyer, she has found comfort in creating, as she always has, despite the circumstances.

“During the school year you can typically find me by myself improvising in the studios for hours on ends, coping with whatever I need to process at the moment, for however long it takes,” she said. 

Without a studio, Wedemeyer has faced different challenges.  

“I find that my mind isn’t calm enough for a quiet focus to reflect in the way I want to, and, in result, I have been keeping busy on smaller tasks and creative projects to keep my mind going and self-stimulated with the resources I have,” she said. “I am coping. This is the way I know.”