Venezuela ballerina reinvents training at home in quarantine
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A book cabinet has become a training bar for Venezuelan ballerina Carolina Wolf. She has to wet her ballet slippers so her feet don’t slip on the tile floor. Her two cats replace an audience of hundreds of people.
Wolf has has had to reinvent her daily training routines to stay fit as the coronavirus pandemic has locked her company out of its theater in Caracas.
It’s a dilemma that’s been shared by dancers, athletes and others around the world who have been stuck at home for weeks or months under quarantine.
Wolf, 42, said she refuses to let the pandemic stop her from being ready for the reopening of the Teresa Carreño Ballet company — whenever that day comes.
“For a dancer, you rest for just a weekend, and when Monday comes your body feels out of sorts,” she said. “Imagine letting yourself go after all this time.”
The Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas — one of Latin America’s largest and most modern — closed its doors in March, about the same time the rest of Venezuela went on a lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The quarantine has so far lasted for five months, yet the rate of infections has been steadily growing and President Nicolás Maduro has extended national emergency measures, blocking commercial flights and closing most restaurants and entertainment venues.
Most Venezuela hold little hope that life will soon return to normal across the South American nation — or inside the dance company’s stages and rehearsal rooms.
“It’s not the same,” Wolf said, noting the limitations have forced her to scale back her workouts.
There’s no replacing the theater’s wooden floors that have give and protect her from injury upon landing from a leap. Wolf learned the trick of wetting her pointe shoes from her mother, a retired dancer from the National Ballet of Venezuela.
She discovered some new opportunities during the pandemic.
Some of the world’s most prominent dancers have started offering instruction online. Wolf said this has helped her stay fit and polish her technique, making her movements more fluid and precise.
Under normal circumstances, there would be little chance of paying to bring such renowned teachers to Venezuela, a nation in crisis. And now they’re offering training at no cost, she said.
“They started giving them for free,” she said. “I took them.”
Wolf, who has been part of the Teresa Carreño Ballet since 2005, admitted she fights off moments of doubt. She was used to being surrounded by other dancers all week long perfecting their craft.
She finds herself asking: “Why do I keep training? Will there ever come a day when we will return?” In those moments she thinks of the next performance in the unknown future on the theater’s stage. She leans on newfound instructors online.
“That helps me feel good,” she said. “Regardless of what happens in the future.”