Francesca Bianchi was working through her sophomore year at Point Park University in Pittsburgh when the coronavirus pandemic hit and she was sent back home to Durango.
A jazz dance major who is also pre-med, Bianchi is tasked with completing her coursework remotely, and she’s posted a couple of her dance videos – “Just the Two of Us” and “Tappy Feet” – to YouTube. And while they were initially intended for her dance composition class, they can also offer the public a few minutes of escape.
Bianchi started dancing when she about 3 years old, and at first, it was all about having fun and doing what her older sister did, she said, adding that it wasn’t until she was a preteen that she started considering dance as a potential career path. Growing up in Durango, the 21-year-old danced at Ballet Durango, Durango Dance and Dance in the Rockies. She also spent her senior year dancing at Sweatshop Dance in Denver.
“I originally got into dance as a form of physical therapy because I couldn’t walk. My sister was in dance as well, so I was following in big sister’s footsteps,” she said. “I think I started getting serious about what I wanted to do around 11 or 12 (years old). I was always a big performer – I love being on stage and dancing – When I was 11, I got my first solo, so I think from that moment on I looked at dance as a career.”
“Just the Two of Us” is a modern-dance piece that features Bianchi’s dog – and her soul mate, she said – Nacho. Bianchi puts on her tap shoes for “Tappy Feet,” which was originally titled “Just Monkeying Around,” she writes in the YouTube description. She said the piece is “dedicated to the viewer: May you find happiness with just a glimpse into my world. And, yes, all tapping was done in real time no time lapse necessary. Hope you enjoy it.”
And for Bianchi, while the videos were assignments, they’ve helped keep things light in the face of these strange times.
“Being stuck in the house is not the most ideal; when it’s sunny outside and you want to go see friends and do things, you really have to depend on the people you’re surrounded with to keep the positives coming and keep the good vibes flowing,” Bianchi said.