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“It’s Only Rock’n’Roll (But I Like It),” Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones once sang a few decades ago.
These days, the lyrics might well be: “It’s Only Rock’n’Roll (But We Miss It).”
That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out the entire spring competition calendar at the World Rock’n’Roll Confederation (WRRC), according to its President Miriam Kerpan Izak, and it remains unclear when events will resume again.
“At the moment we are at zero. We haven’t been able to have any competition,” Kerpan Izak says, adding that the focus now is on preparations to get events started again in the fall.
“The No. 1 problem is uncertainty,” she says. “We don’t really know what will happen. We have many competitions planned for the autumn, of course all the big ones, including World Championships, in all categories. But there are all kinds of issues.”
Those issues largely centre around the contrasting restrictions that are in place in different countries depending on what stage of the pandemic they are currently in. They range from travel restrictions, border closings and quarantine measures to the number of people allowed to congregate together in one place. All of which makes planning for and organising big events such as a World Championship extremely challenging.
“There will come a point in time where we have to decide what the minimum number of athletes that can participate in a competition or a World Championship is,” Kerpan Izak says. “It will be a really difficult decision, especially if all the countries are not yet open and all the competitors are not able to travel, but sooner or later we will be forced to make that decision.”
The WRRC, which has been a valued Associate Member of the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) since 1994, is of course not alone in its uncertainty. All DanceSport disciplines are currently on hiatus, with the same question marks hanging over their competition schedules for this autumn.
But according to Kerpan Izak, who represents the WRRC on the WDSF Presidium, DanceSport administrators are not merely sitting idly by. Quite the contrary.
She says that in the last two months the Presidium has held two meetings online, while workshops with top WRRC dancers and coaches have also been organized, some of which had over 500 participants. Other WRRC members have begun organising international competitions online, which for the time being are only for fun but have nevertheless been well received. Kerpan Izak also hosted her own “Ask the President” Livestream Q&A on Facebook, while judging and technical observer seminars were delivered virtually as well.
“Social media and all these tools prove that we can use our time better,” she says. “Of course, there are some things you cannot do online but on the other hand you now only spend, I don’t know, Saturdays from 9 to 5, whereas before you had to travel one day early and spend an entire weekend at an event, pay for travel expenses, the hotel, and so on. So it’s been a good experience and I think part of it we will keep when all this is over and we return to normal.”
One thing is certain: Everyone at the WRRC is eager to get back on the dance floor as soon as possible, nobody more so than the dancers themselves.
When classical training began two weeks ago in Kerpan Izak’s native Slovenia, for example, she was positively surprised at how fit the dancers still were. Despite social distancing and isolation, dancers had remained committed to their training, as clear an indication as any that they love what they do.
“I think this special situation proved that the dancers do their sport not just because of competition but because they really love dancing,” Kerpan Izak says. “Even when they had to stay at home when they couldn’t train together with their partners, they had all kinds of online lessons which proved that they really missed dancing and they wanted to keep on doing it.
“Even if the situation is not so good for them, they don’t give up and they pursue their dreams. And I can say from the experience of my dancers when we had the first online training, it was really a reunion of everybody who wants to do this sport together and I think that this is very important. This situation showed that even when we are apart, we are still connected.”