"This is the first time in my life where I can actually slow down" - Kristina Lind
In the second episode Kristina Lind writes about how she responds to the Corona crisis and how she focuses on making this time positive and productive. Since the middle of March performances at Bayerisches Staatsballett have been canceled, ballet class and rehearsals are not taking place either.
The world has been essentially “shut down” for a few weeks now, and I am sure that everybody is adapting to this new socially-distanced, self-isolated lifestyle in their own ways. For me, my initial reaction was a flood of anxiety - “What does all this mean? How long will this last? How can I stay healthy?” - plus a small sigh of relief - “At least I can finally catch up on sleep and let my painfully bruised toe heal since I don’t need to wear pointe shoes for eight hours a day anymore!”
Our season at the Bayerisches Staatsballett came to a halt in the middle of March. I was on the verge of making my debut as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. It’s a role that I have dreamed of getting to perform one day, and I had been working intensely on it for weeks. Over the years, I have learned to be prepared for anything. Unforeseen circumstances can completely change the course you thought you were on. But how could we be prepared for this? I certainly didn’t see this coming - I don’t think anyone did! The circumstances brought on by this worldwide pandemic are beyond anyone’s control. The only thing we can control right now is how we respond to it. Focusing on how I can make this time positive and productive keeps me from feeling like I am missing out on everything that was “supposed” to happen during this time. Instead of ruminating on my disappointment of missing Swan Lake, I am devoting this time to enjoying and exploring other aspects of myself and my life outside the theatre.
I wouldn’t trade my life as a professional ballet dancer for anything, but this profession is demanding and exhausting and unrelenting, and through it all, time moves so quickly! This is the first time in my life that I can remember where I can actually slow down. Right now, I find it refreshing to be able to dictate my own schedule, based on what my body tells me it needs. My body is my instrument, and after training with it for 25-plus years, I am fairly adept at keeping it in tune. I wouldn’t have made it this far in my profession without a serious amount of self-discipline. I don’t see discipline as just coming from working hard in one singular direction. For me, it comes from an awareness of myself, which grants me the focus to work in the direction I’m aiming to go, and to have the flexibility to adapt. Being isolated at home has been quite a lesson in adaptation!
Over the past few weeks, my daily routine has evolved naturally. Without intentionally scheduling myself, I have realized that a consistent pattern has emerged. My days mainly consist of four elements: ballet, dog walks, cooking, and calls to family and friends.
First and foremost, I need ballet in my life. Not because it is routine, but because dancing fuels me, and being a ballet dancer is so deeply infused with my identity. I don’t want to spend my days without it. My home-bound experience has revolved around my needs as a ballet dancer. The first couple of weeks, my body told me to rest. So much of our physical strength comes from our internal state of being. I shifted my attention inwards, and focused on building my inner fortitude. I did much more gentle forms of exercise, like yoga, gyrotonics, ballet barre, and taking walks in the park. These more meditative activities have helped me find a lot of clarity in my thoughts - something that is often hard to come by when life is hectic.
Now that I have taken the time to rest, and the spring weather is brightening up, I am feeling more revitalized. I have begun jogging to get my heartrate up, and I am able to maintain my ballet technique on the square of linoleum flooring gifted to the dancers from the theatre. I wouldn’t be able to train properly without this floor, so I am especially grateful! Our company offers online company class in the mornings. Along with that, I have enjoyed taking classes from many other ballet companies around the world, especially with my friends and former colleagues in Amsterdam and San Francisco. I even got to take class with my sister (virtually, of course), who lives and dances in Portland, Oregon. So much of the joy I experience while dancing comes from sharing that experience with the people in the studio. It’s just not the same to be dancing in isolation, so these online classes help bring that experience to our homes. There’s often a pianist who joins in and plays live, too!
I really cherish getting to spend this quality time together with my husband and our two dogs, Tina and Alice. The dogs are extra happy these days, since a large portion of our day is spent outside at the park with them! We live a short walk away from both Olympia Park and Luitpold Park, so we have quite a bit to explore. It has been so healthy for the body and mind to get outside for a few hours everyday to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Experiencing the emergence of spring has also been such a special thing to witness!
Cooking - and many dishes that follow - is another main component of the day. We love getting to pick out fresh spring produce at the grocery store, and we have the time now to try some new recipes. Some highlights have been: a celery root, potato, and leek soup; vegan paella with brauner Kräuterseitling (a mushroom), green olives, and artichoke hearts; a lemon tart; and we even made hot sauce with Scotch Bonnet and Jalapeño peppers. It feels like a luxury to have this much time to spend cooking, and my husband and I really enjoy getting creative in the kitchen together.
What I find to be the greatest gift is having the evening hours to talk with my parents and siblings, call my grandparents, and reconnect with friends. With the nine-hour time difference to the U.S., it’s difficult to find time to connect between everybody’s busy schedules. Now that we are all at home with an abundance of time, I get to spend almost every evening catching up with someone new.
Despite our physical isolation, I feel more connected than ever to the greater dance community, and I am so impressed by how generously inclusive individuals and companies have been during this time. Through this situation, I am confident that the arts organizations will adapt and survive, and I am excited to see what creative solutions come out of this! I have already been amazed and inspired by the amount of cultural content I am finding on the internet. It is really exciting to have access to such an array of ballet and opera performances, as well as virtual museum tours. I have watched so many ballets and operas during these past few weeks that I would have never had the opportunity to otherwise travel to see live. If there is one good thing to come of all of this, I hope that the expansion of this digital medium will bring even more inspiring art into our daily lives.
This pandemic has provided us with such an unexpected opportunity to reset ourselves. It’s a chance to reevaluate what’s essential in our lives. We have the time now to slow down, look inward, and make personal shifts that will have profound effects in our lives down the road. I am grateful to be able to turn this experience into a positive one, although I am so anxious to get back into the studio. I hope you all are staying healthy and well, and I hope to get to perform for you again soon!
Kristina Lind was born in California. She studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and started her carrier as a dancer with the ensemble of the San Francisco Ballet in 2009. In 2015, Kristina Lind joined the Dutch National Ballet and came to the Bayerisches Staatsballett in April 2017 as a First Soloist. With the beginning of the 2019/20 season she was promoted to principal.