Tagged Dancing

Post-Pandemic “Firsts”

What’s the First Thing You Will Do When the Pandemic Ends?

We put that question to readers and received more than 800 responses. Here are some of the highlights.

Credit…Tamara Shopsin
Sara Aridi

  • Jan. 2, 2021, 11:03 a.m. ET

Though public health officials have cautioned that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, the rollout of vaccines around the world signals the start of a hopeful chapter after nearly a year of lockdowns, restrictions and social distancing. Now that imagining an “after time,” seems possible, At Home readers were asked to share their “firsts” — the first things they plan to do when the world returns to normal. A total of 803 readers responded, with plans for hugs, family visits and dream trips that have been delayed.

Here, a few of their ideas, edited and condensed for clarity.

Hugs, kisses and handshakes

“Hug my grandmother real tight. I visited her once, but I just waved at her outside her room and then she responded by asking who I was. I lowered my mask to show her my face, and she asked me to come closer. I said I couldn’t.”

Mika Amador, Manila, Philippines

“I am a pediatric nurse, and what I miss most is my patients and their parents being able to see me smile.”

Mary McNulty, New York

“Oh, to be able to shake hands again. We have lost the simple way we show respect for one another, to say thank you, to signal agreement. Our elbows will never be up to the job.”

Audrey Jessen, Gulfport, Fla.

“Despite being 33 years old and my brother being 45, I cannot wait to give him a hug. He is a surgeon, and not only does he see Covid-19 patients, he operates on them. Because of that, he has been self-isolating in a room above his garage since March.”

Fay Olga Pappas, Winter Park, Fla.

“As a 50-year-old single mother, I am looking forward to an in-person first date, and maybe even a good-night kiss.”

Keryn Marie, Alameda, Calif.

Gathering together

“I’m excited to watch my first cohort of freshman students walk across the stage at their high school graduation and tell them in person, four years later, how incredibly proud I am to have been their teacher and now their friend.”

Taylor Lifka, Roma, Texas

“I miss sitting in a classroom full of students. I miss the background noise, the jokes, the laughter. I miss taking notes from the teacher’s whiteboard. I miss hearing the staff’s heels click down the hall. I miss walking past the janitor and saying ‘Hello.’”

Sabrina Johnson, Michigan

“Sharing physical space with my colleagues, who I rely on deeply in my work as a public defender for fortitude, camaraderie and guidance. I miss the small and large moments of our office and courtroom culture that energize me to be the best advocate I can be.”

Mary Gibbons, Brooklyn

“The live bingo games I host in our clubhouse where our residents come to enjoy, maybe to win a few dollars, but most of all, I suspect, to have the doughnuts we serve at the break.”

Donny Shusterman, Boynton Beach, Fla.

“Every year I host a small Christmas party for my friends. Regardless what time of year it is when we’re done with social distancing, I’m going to throw one. We order Chinese food, drink, play games and then sometimes people crash at my place so we can get brunch to nurse our hangovers.”

Melissa Croce, Brooklyn

Credit…Tamara Shopsin

Seeing family …

“Seeing my daughter Nina who is in a residential care center and hasn’t been able to have visitors for much of the pandemic. That has been really hard on both of us.”

Carole Kerper, Palmyra, Pa.

“I want to go to my home country, Peru, to see my mom, and my dad’s ashes. He died in November, and I couldn’t give him a hug goodbye for fear of traveling there during the pandemic.”

Karina Bekemeier, San Francisco, Calif.

… and getting away from them

“I’m hiring a babysitter and going out dancing.”

Amanda Vaught, Brooklyn

“Going out with friends and being able to have a dinner date with my wife, inside a restaurant, away from our child.”

Jason March, Shoreline, Wash.

Getting out of the house

“I have an autoimmune disease that has drastically curtailed my daily travels. I am looking forward to a normal trip to the grocery store!”

Kelley L., Texas

“Paying too much for someone else to make my cocktail.”

Megan Lechner, St. Louis

“I had a baby this past summer, and I can’t wait to take him to the grocery store, out to lunch or to visit out-of-state relatives. There is a whole world out there that he’s barely seen, and I can’t wait to show it to him.”

Amelia Alexander, Durham, N.C.

“I want to go back to my local library in New York City, browse the new books without feeling rushed and check out a big pile of books without worrying about germs.”

Alice Alderman, New York

“Salsa dancing again! I miss the closeness and sweatiness of dancing with smiling strangers at my favorite club. It’s going to feel fantastic to be spun and dipped post-pandemic!”

Poonam Dubal, Dallas

Credit…Tamara Shopsin

Being a face in the crowd

“Being part of a big, anonymous crowd. I miss that feeling of collectivity, of being an ant in the colony. I’m excited for when I can join a packed spinning class, dance among strangers at a party or even just sit silently shoulder-to-shoulder on an airplane.”

Meg D., Seattle

“I’m ready to wander out of a late-night concert after dancing on strangers’ toes in search of the nearest greasy food truck that offers fries and sauces so I can double dip with friends.”

Megan Peters, Helena, Mont.

“I love to swim at my local Y.M.C.A. Getting into the pool always felt like utter bliss, and I would wonder, “Why don’t I do this everyday?” I dream about gliding, swirling, splashing and plunging in the water again.”

Sharene Voelkel, San Jose, Calif.

“I cannot wait to go to the movie theater. The movie itself? Irrelevant. I want to arrive early and buy an ungodly amount of popcorn. I can just see it now, getting excited while watching the trailers. Hearing strangers in the audience chuckle, gasp or cry. The camaraderie of strangers in the dark.”

Emma Bausch, Chicago

“Taking my kids to an indoor play area! McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Chuck E. Cheese. Keeping three kids happy inside a house for the whole summer was so hard.”

Lily Rotering, Fort Worth

“Taking public transit. I miss the convenience of not having to worry about parking. I can’t wait to hear the Red Line El train conductor who always tells people ‘May the Force be with you’ after they exit the train. I miss waiting at bus stops with friends or people-watching in a subway car. There’s something about taking public transit that makes me feel like I am a part of the city.”

Rebecca Silverman, Chicago

Traveling the world

“I am 85 years old. When the pandemic began, I was 84, and when it ends I will probably be 86. Two years at the end of one’s life are rather valuable. What I’d like to do is fly to Boston and walk the Freedom Trail; drive to Maine and find a lobster shack; and visit Egypt to sail down the Nile.”

Jo Procter, Chevy Chase, Md.

“I’m most looking forward to taking my son to Disneyland. I’ve been saving up for almost 10 years, since he was a baby, and we were supposed to go this summer.”

Courtney Keeler, Denver

And never again

“No more Zoom dates.”

Alexander Hartson, Washington, D.C.

Things To Do At Home

Here is a sampling of the week’s events and how to tune in (all times are Eastern). Note that events are subject to change after publication.


On the eve of World AIDS Day, join a free virtual screening of the short-film series “Transmissions,” followed by a panel discussion with the artists, produced by the nonprofit Visual AIDS and co-hosted by the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The six films in the program, which will be available on the Visual AIDS site beginning Tuesday, examine the impact of the epidemic outside the United States, in countries including India and Uganda.

When 6 p.m.

Where visualaids.org/transmissions


Help the young aspiring spies in your family crack secret codes and encode their own secret messages using eight different formulas for invisible ink thanks to the free activities provided by the Spy Museum in Washington. Just be prepared: Top-secret missives may start appearing throughout your home.

When Anytime

Where spymuseum.org


Pop in for the 31st installment of “Sonic Gatherings,” a weekly performance of new and improvised material from the dancer Brandon Collwes and the composer John King, as well as a rotating cast of collaborators. The pair, both previously affiliated with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, were inspired in part by Mr. Cunningham’s site-specific “Events” — only this time, the “site” is Zoom; dancers frequently broadcast live from their homes. As a result, you’ll feel like you’re in on a joyous and intimate secret gathering.

When 6 p.m.

Where tiny.cc/SonicGathering

Join the comedian Wyatt Cenac for a lively evening of short readings that celebrate New York City: “Selected Shorts: New York Stories With Wyatt Cenac,” hosted by Symphony Space. Actors such as Matthew Broderick and Karen Pittman will read a selection of short stories, essays and poems by writers including Victor LaValle, Vinson Cunningham and Colum McCann. Tickets cost $15.

When 7:30 p.m.

Where symphonyspace.org/events


Listen to Paul Giamatti read Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” which Mr. Giamatti recorded while sheltering in place over the summer. Then tune in to a live conversation between Mr. Giamatti and the Melville biographer Andrew Delbanco, hosted by 92Y. Tickets cost $15.

When 7 p.m.

Where 92y.org/event/bartleby-the-scrivener


Take in a free streamed performance of Georges Bizet’s “Carmen by the Metropolitan Opera. Elina Garanca leads the cast as Carmen in this recording of a 2010 performance, alongside Roberto Alagna as Don José and Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Escamillo. This performance of the classic opera, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, is available to stream for free until 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

When 7:30 p.m.

Where metopera.org


Let your middle-schoolers embrace their inner Christian Dior or Rei Kawakubo through a virtual fashion workshop, “Fashion of the Future,” hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During the three-hour course, which ties into the Costume Institute’s new exhibit, “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” kids will learn to design garments for paper dolls through collage and drawing. A separate workshop for high schoolers begins at 2 p.m.

When 10 a.m.

Where metmuseum.org/events/whats-on

Credit…Luci Gutiérrez

Spread some joy this year with The New York Times Cookie Swap. Melissa Clark, a Times Food columnist, will demonstrate one of her delicious cookie recipes, as well as teach viewers the best way to pack cookies to ship out to friends and family. Ms. Clark, along with the cooking experts Dorie Greenspan, Sohla El-Waylly and Samantha Seneviratne, will answer baking questions submitted by viewers. R.S.V.P. to receive a link for the event.

When 11 a.m.

Where nytimes.com/interactive/2020/admin/live-events.html


Find some clarity (and hilarity) with improvised tarot readings hosted by the Tiny Cupboard performance venue and led by the comedian Brittany Brave. A panel of comedians and the psychic and astrologer Clarisse Monahan will read viewers’ tarot cards, to varying degrees of seriousness. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, with a minimum of $1; ticket-holders can pre-submit questions for a tarot reading by emailing improvisedtarot@gmail.com.

When 8 p.m.

Where eventbrite.com

Celebrate the genius of Billie Holiday with a tribute concert hosted by 92Y, featuring Veronica Swift, the Emmet Cohen Trio and the Grammy Award winners Catherine Russel and Tivon Pennicott. Tickets cost $15, and buyers will receive a link to a prerecorded performance at 3 p.m., which will be available to view until Dec. 9.

When 3 p.m.

Where 92y.org/event/billie-holiday-concert-celebration

Downward Facing Dog and High Heels


Tao Porchon-Lynch teaches a yoga class in Scarsdale, N.Y. “I haven’t finished learning,” says Ms. Porchon-Lynch, who is 97. “My students are my teachers.”

Tao Porchon-Lynch teaches a yoga class in Scarsdale, N.Y. “I haven’t finished learning,” says Ms. Porchon-Lynch, who is 97. “My students are my teachers.”Credit Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

Tao Porchon-Lynch, 97, breezed into her regular Wednesday evening yoga class in a brightly colored outfit: stretch pants, sleeveless top, flowing scarf and three-inch heels.

She put down a mat, folded her long, limber legs into a lotus position, and began teaching her zillionth session. Softly, she guided the 15 or so students through stretching and strengthening moves, and meditative breathing.

The group, at the JCC of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale, ranged from rank beginners to 20-year veterans of Ms. Porchon-Lynch’s classes, which she has been teaching for decades. She walked the room, adjusting poses, as her students shifted from dog to cobra to camel.

Ms. Porchon-Lynch herself moved through the poses with no apparent effort. At one point, she suspended herself above the floor, supported by her arms.

“Feel your whole body singing out, and hold,” she instructed.

“The ladder of life will take you to your inner self,” said Ms. Porchon-Lynch, who said that before the class, she had knocked out two hours of ballroom dancing.

“I did the bolero, tango, mambo, samba, cha-cha and, of course, swing dancing,” she said.

After the class, she slipped back into her heels — modest height, by Tao standards. Six-inch stilettos are more her speed because the lift helps the flow of energy from the inner feet up through the body, she said.

Back at her apartment in White Plains, she pointed to a photo of herself being dipped dramatically by a dance partner in a competition.

“He was 70 years younger than me,” she crowed. When Ms. Porchon-Lynch was in her 80s she began competitive ballroom dancing and competing widely, even appearing on “America’s Got Talent.”

“I’m very silly. I haven’t grown up yet,” she said. Then she sat and described her “I was there” life story, a march through history that rivaled a Hollywood film.

She said she was raised by an uncle and aunt in Pondicherry, India, after her mother died giving birth to her on a ship in the English Channel in 1918 toward the end of World War I.

At age 8, she began practicing yoga when few women did, and she traveled widely as a child with her uncle, a rail line designer.

Her father, she said, came from a French family that owned vineyards in the South of France, and she moved there as World War II approached. She and an aunt hid refugees from the Nazis as part of the French Resistance.

In London, she entertained troops as a cabaret dancer, and after the war she began modeling and acting in Paris, she said.

She spoke of English lessons with Noël Coward, and hobnobbing with the likes of Marlene Dietrich and Ernest Hemingway.

She said she had acted in Indian films and around 1950 was signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and had bit roles in big films such as “Show Boat” and “The Last Time I Saw Paris.”

She had stories about marching with Mohandas K. Gandhi and, years later, with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and attending demonstrations with Charles de Gaulle.

Ms. Porchon-Lynch said she had studied yoga over the years with prominent teachers such as Sri Aurobindo, Indra Devi and B. K. S. Iyengar and taught yoga to many actors in Hollywood.

Even after three hip replacement surgeries, she still drives her Smart car daily and travels widely to teach yoga.

“I haven’t finished learning,” she said. “My students are my teachers.”

Ms. Porchon-Lynch, a longtime widow with no children, attributed her longevity to keeping her vortexes of energy flowing with “the fire of life,” and waking up each morning with the positive attitude that each day will be your best.

“Whatever you put in your mind materializes,” she said. “Within yourself, there’s an energy, but unless you use it, it dissipates. And that’s when you get old.”

Five hours of sleep a night is plenty, she said.

“There is so much to do and think about,” said Ms. Porchon-Lynch, a lifelong vegetarian and a wine enthusiast who still enjoys imbibing.

At the JCC class, she took her students through sun salutation movements and told them, “Remember, the sun salutation means that the dawn is breaking over the whole universe.”

Finally, she talked them through a wind-down period of relaxing meditation.

“Bring your consciousness back down to the physical plane,” she said. “May the light of the union of all things join our mind, our body and our spirit.”


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Walk, Jog or Dance: It’s All Good for the Aging Brain


Credit Illustration by Sam Island

More people are living longer these days, but the good news comes shadowed by the possible increase in cases of age-related mental decline. By some estimates, the global incidence of dementia will more than triple in the next 35 years. That grim prospect is what makes a study published in March in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease so encouraging: It turns out that regular walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and even gardening may substantially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Exercise has long been linked to better mental capacity in older people. Little research, however, has tracked individuals over years, while also including actual brain scans. So for the new study, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and other institutions analyzed data produced by the Cardiovascular Health Study, begun in 1989, which has evaluated almost 6,000 older men and women. The subjects complete medical and cognitive tests, fill out questionnaires about their lives and physical activities and receive M.R.I. scans of their brains. Looking at 10 years of data from nearly 900 participants who were at least 65 upon entering the study, the researchers first determined who was cognitively impaired, based on their cognitive assessments. Next they estimated the number of calories burned through weekly exercise, based on the participants’ questionnaires.

The scans showed that the top quartile of active individuals proved to have substantially more gray matter, compared with their peers, in those parts of the brain related to memory and higher-­level thinking. More gray matter, which consists mostly of neurons, is generally equated with greater brain health. At the same time, those whose physical activity increased over a five-year period — though these cases were few — showed notable increases in gray-matter volume in those same parts of their brains. And, perhaps most meaningful, people who had more gray matter correlated with physical activity also had 50 percent less risk five years laterof having experienced memory decline or of having developed Alzheimer’s.

“For the purposes of brain health, it looks like it’s a very good idea to stay as physically active as possible,” says Cyrus Raji, a senior radiology resident at U.C.L.A., who led the study. He points out that “physical activity” is an elastic term in this study: It includes walking, jogging and moderate cycling as well as gardening, ballroom dancing and other calorie-burning recreational pursuits. Dr. Raji said he hopes that further research might show whether this caloric expenditure is remodeling the brain, perhaps by reducing inflammation or vascular diseases.

The ideal amount and type of activity for staving off memory loss is unknown, he says, although even the most avid exercisers in this group were generally cycling or dancing only a few times a week. Still, the takeaway is that physical activity might change aging’s arc. “If we want to live a long time but also keep our memories, our basic selves, intact, keep moving,” Dr. Raji says.


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