Zachary Catazaro
Zachary CatazaroImage by: Zachary Catazaro
Zachary Catazaro
24 November 2020

How I stay focused and balanced during the pandemic

Zachary Catazaro
3 minutes read time

For dancer Zachary Catazaro, the sky is the limit

I began taking ballet lessons at the age of five. My mother is a ballet teacher and it’s something I’ve done my whole life. Growing up in Ohio, ballet was my way out to see the world and it’s given me the opportunity to visit some amazing places and meet some incredible people. But everything changed once Covid-19 hit. Theaters can no longer be filled and anything having to do with live performances has come to a halt.

It’s a unique situation because we’re all going through the same thing together for the first time. Recently, I’ve been spending more time with my family. It’s really important to maintain good relationships with family because they’re the ones who are there for you and I think that’s a very overlooked form of self-care. During quarantine, I’ve just been doing my day-to-day thing and trying to be positive. Positivity is one of the most important things, especially for mental health.

I’ve experienced the power the mind has over the body. I’ve seen people spiral out of control and it’s really important to keep a level head and to seek help if you need it. I think it’s very hard for people to reach out and admit that they have an issue to other people. It’s hard to take that step, whether it’s fear or what not that holds us back. It’s really important to seek help from your family, friends or even a coworker. There are so many outlets that are offered to people and I think that it’s really important to do that. Asking for help can be a hard thing, especially in dance.

Being in a front a mirror all day, staring at yourself, critiquing your body and realizing some things you can’t change—it really takes its toll.

Many companies have taken major steps to provide outlets for dancers’ mental health but I think it’s also something that can always be reevaluated year in and year out to perfect the system so that you don’t get dancers with eating disorders or dancers who don’t show up to work because they’ve developed certain vices. All of these things can take its toll on people and have longterm effects on their lives.

While dance is a rewarding and passionate career, it can also be very alienating at times. When I was with New York City Ballet, we’d have performances of The Nutcracker that would start the day after Thanksgiving and we’d also have performances on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas so none of us really had a chance to go home to our families for so many years.

The dance I recently posted on my Instagram that I dedicated to Movember was choreographed oneThanksgiving when me and a fellow dancer found ourselves alone on the holiday sharing a drink.

Dancing in the ballet world for so long, you see various forms of mental fatigue on people and depression and stress and anxiety that leads to complicated head spaces. I really support what Movember is doing to for men’s health. I ride a Triumph motorcycle and I’ve participated in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride for Movember before. I also feel like a moustache is such a good conversation starter. My father passed away from colon cancer a couple years ago and it was an extremely difficult time to go through. Encouraging men to get take care of their health and detect cancer in its earliest stages is essential.

Although there aren’t going to be any performances until fall of 2021 at the earliest, many of us in the live performance arts are reinventing ourselves at the moment. I’m revisiting something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid and never had time to do.I decided to enroll in a university and work toward my bachelor’s degree in aviation and I’m flying planes to try to get my license and ratings.

One thing I’ve learned is that no matter what life throws you, you have to stay positive and you’ve got to just keep going.