Dealing with lockdown through dance

Lockdown has affected us all in different ways. For me, I found the biggest change in my dancing. I’m a PhD student in dance at GSA, and what I discovered to be most uncomfortable to me during lockdown, was that I stopped dancing. I couldn’t face a lot of the online classes that have been offered by dance companies all over the world. My experience of dance was always a free-ing one, but trying to dance along with someone on a screen in my very small (and carpeted) home space just didn’t feel right at all.

By June, I realised that this was the change that had really gotten to me. I was more frustrated and anxious than ever before, and I missed dancing. I missed being in the studio with people and sharing a beautiful moment or two. I missed that feeling of freedom when I dance.

I live in Wales, and the lockdown was particularly strict here. For a long while, we weren’t allowed to go further than 5 miles from our house, and this left many people feeling particularly hemmed in. As the Welsh lockdown began to ease, I wondered if there was a way I could reconnect with dance and with the outdoors. My partner was experimenting with his new camera, and so an idea began to form – as we started to venture to more outdoor places in South Wales, I set myself a mission: to create a short dance film in each new location.

The experience has allowed me to reconnect with my body again, and to feel that I am creating something whilst I still can’t teach or work with the dance groups that I used to. Each new film is a learning curve, experimenting with new camera angles, and different sites with all their quirks. So far, we’ve made dance films in castles, forests and on beaches… at an abandoned Lido in the Welsh valleys and in the ruins of a 19th century lime works in Glamorgan. It’s a project that I plan to keep up beyond lockdown, as it’s helped me see these locations in a new way, and I hope it will help others to do so as well.

I’ve called the project “footSTEPS” because it’s very much about taking new steps, finding new places, and exploring new ways of dancing. You can follow my footsteps at

Gemma Connell, GSA