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Pirouetting through a pandemic: The Stephanie Kurlow Interview

Isolation has been a different experience for everybody. Some have thrived off the alone time, using it as an opportunity to finally learn the ukulele, while others are feeling the cabin fever set in.

For those on the verge of talking to their volleyball, it might be helpful to remember that we’re all in this together. If that isn’t enough to give you solace, Rapt! reached out to Stephanie Kurlow, the world’s first professional hijabi ballerina, to find out how she’s dealing with iso life while still living at home.

How have you been? How are you finding lockdown?

It has been a very interesting adjustment. There have been moments of relaxation and taking things slowly contrasted with the moments of stress and this great feeling of worry about the state of the world. It was difficult at first to adjust to spending so much time at home while trying to keep some sense of normalcy – but I think that it’s reached the point now where being home all the time feels normal.

How are you keeping busy?

I have spent a lot of time exploring old and new passions. I’ve always loved sewing, which is very time-consuming so that’s been great. I have also been creating a lot of artworks and now have some sort of paint and canvas collection. To keep fit, I’ve been doing some ballet classes and workouts online, but I miss dancing in a large open studio space with other people. There’s a sense of togetherness you feel when you’re dancing with others that you can’t replicate alone at home.

How has Coronavirus affected your training and year?

It has seriously affected my year and training, as I know that it has for almost everyone around the world. Auditions have been cancelled, travel has been banned, my upcoming projects have either been cancelled or postponed. I am having to train at home in a small space without the aid of a teacher correcting. In saying all of that, it’s been so beautiful to see the dance community coming together. We are all in the same position and we all have to find different ways to stay connected, motivated, and moving. Which is inspiring to see.

What’s it like being at home 24/7 with your family?

I am loving the extra time I’m able to spend with my family. It’s brought us all closer together. We’re spending almost all of our time together so we’ve become more tight-knit. I’ve enjoyed it a lot.

Is there an activity that you do with your family that you look forward to?

My mum and I love watching a good Netflix movie or show together and there’s been plenty of time to do that now!

Do you feel like you have enough space right now?

I have a lot of space in terms of time. There has been so much ‘free’ time that it’s hard to keep a structure or routine every day. Not a lot of space to dance though… ha! I am confined to the living room but it’s been nice to go back to the basics of ballet and focus more on small techniques. If I want more free space, I try and go for a nice long walk in my local park every week or so. It gives me time to think and enjoy the nature around me. It’s quite calming to just wander around in a new environment.

Are you missing your friends?

I’ve missed them so much. We’re so lucky now that two people are allowed to visit another household, we’ve now been able to see each other and it’s been extra special.

How are you keeping in contact with them?

A lot of phone calls and video chats. We like to set up a big group video chat and play some online games or watch a movie or show together.

How are they holding up?

I think we’ve all been doing reasonably well. I know for a lot of my friends it’s been a challenge doing uni online. But we all try to support each other through whatever we’re going through.

What are you missing the most?

Almost everything! I miss dancing in a studio with a teacher and my dance friends. I miss going rock climbing with my friends and being able to catch up with them at the market or coffee shop.

What’s the best way for people your age to stay positive?

I think the best advice I’ve been given is to spend your time however you wish and need to. Don’t get caught up in how productive or motivated other people are or seem to be. If you want to sit on the couch and watch some TV – go for it. If you want to start a new project, work out and do a ballet class then go for it. Whatever you need to do to get through this pandemic is different from what someone else needs. There’s no need to compare yourself with others on social media. Take this day by day and stay safe and healthy. Continue to do what you love and are passionate about and hopefully we can all come out of this with a little more appreciation for the little things and the big things.

Do you have five tips for staying sane in isolation?

  1. Stay connected with friends.
  2. Try something new or something you’ve always wanted to do.
  3. Go out for a walk every now and then, it’s good to get a change of scenery.
  4. Make sure you try to get enough sleep every night.
  5. Take it day by day.

What do you think the biggest change will be after Coronavirus?

I am hoping that we all are a lot more conscious about climate change. We’ve all seen the amazing effects that have happened due to people staying at home, among

other things. Let’s try and change the way we live to better support the planet we’re so lucky to live on. We know it’s possible now, so let’s all try to do our part instead of going back to our old ways.

If you want to hear more from Steph, check out on our Rapt! Channel