• Sarah Forró

When the penny drops...

There is a great expression in Portuguese: "Caiu a ficha". Literally it means that the token or chip fell, and could be best rendered in English by the saying "The penny drops/dropped" although without making you sound like a smug parent who knows best (most of the time, at least!)

Yesterday, the Belgian government held a press conference to announce that our lockdown will be prolonged by another two weeks until May 3rd. They also warned that all large, festival-type gatherings will be banned until 31st August.

The content of the announcement was not unexpected; everything was already pointing in this direction. But something about this triggered that "caiu a ficha" moment for me as I realised that I'm not going to be back in the classroom before September, at the earliest. And this has made me incredibly sad.

Sad not to see my students for six months.

Sad for the students who had just started learning in January to be so brutally cut off from this dance they were learning to love.

Sad for all the students for whom forró was an integral part of their weekly routine and their well-being.

Sad for myself, that I won't get to feel the thrill and exhilaration of leading a group of students to learn to communicate with their body in new ways for such a long time.

And sad that hugs are going to become even more taboo in a world where well-intentioned physical touch between individuals outside our close circle is already the exception, not the rule.

As well as triggering intense feelings of loss and sadness, it's also damn scary for those of us who depend on forró, or any other social dance or cultural activity, for our livelihood. I'm lucky in that the Belgian government has provided some limited support for businesses affected in March and April. It doesn't cover what we would have earnt in normal times, but it really does help and I hope that will continue until our activities are authorised again - #fingerscrossed!

And beyond basic financial survival, there is the psychological aspect. I've been working only with forró for two years now and I'm so proud of having built this project from a single class into a full-on school which can provide me with a small but living wage. It's demoralising to suddenly see it, if not fully collapse, frozen - with no idea what shape it might be in when we are finally able to defrost it.

I'm almost ready to start thinking and planning how to make the best out of the situation. It is an opportunity to learn, adapt and grow, after all - even if being reminded of that on a regular basis can wear a bit thin! But personally speaking, I still need a little time to acknowledge my sadness at not being able to do the work I love in the way I love - through hugs, touch and physical presence - for at least the next six months.

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Sending you all good vibes, as well as my sympathies for the opportunities, activities or people you are also having to say goodbye to during this period. Here's hoping that most of you have not lost loved ones during this crisis. My deepest condolences to anyone who has.

Talk again soon, when I'm feeling ready to get positive and start adapting to our new normal!

In the meantime, keep your spirits up with a beautiful song from New Zealand. Thanks to Yvette for sharing it on Facebook where I found it and fell in love.




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