Hospital worker’s impromptu ballet performance brings joy to staff, patients and visitors — and goes viral

·4-min read

It’s always important to cherish sweet moments of joy in times of crisis — something Teva Martinson knows all too well. 

Martinson, a dancer-turned-phlebotomist, went viral this week when he delivered an impromptu masked ballet performance at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. The video, originally taken by the hospital, was later shared by local networks and national shows including Good Morning America.

(Photo: University of Utah Health via Twitter)
Teva Martinson in his now-viral ballet dance inside the University of Utah Hospital. (Photo: University of Utah Health via Twitter)

In the video, Martinson, 21, is seen happily kicking off his crocs and giving a sweet dance in the lobby of the hospital as people walk by in admiration. The response to his performance was swift.

“Can you imagine the emotional healing this did for just these moments as people walked by?” a commenter wrote. “Chills.”

“Thank you, Teva, for a minute of beauty amidst all the tensions in our health care system,” another wrote. “Your talent is just as important to healing as any medicine.”

As Martinson explains to Yahoo Life, the routine was indeed a random — and impromptu — act of joy.

“On that day, I was just on a break,” Martinson says. “Me and my friend had gone to get a quick coffee and on that same floor there’s a pianist. After we got our coffee, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I would really love to dance. Her music is so pretty. And my friend was like, ‘Why don't you go and give it a shot?’”

He continues, “We walked on over there and talk to the sweet lady who was playing. I was like, ‘Do you know any ballets?’ She's like, ‘A couple.’ So I just kicked off my little Crocs and I was like, let's just have a moment. It was so nice.”

Martinson’s love for dance began in high school when he was scouted by a teacher who saw his potential. He says he later received a scholarship to a performing arts college in Los Angeles, but after a year decided to transition to the medical field instead. 

“I had a lot to consider,” he recalls. “I might not be the perfect build. I might not have the prettiest face. I might not have the best technique. But I told myself, you know what? It's totally OK. People become so many things in their life. I thought I needed dance to be happy. I thought I needed to be at the top of, I don't know, social [media] and all that jazz. But then I thought to myself, why can't I just take a moment to do something selfless when all my life I tried to be what someone thought was perfect?" 

“I thought I had lost myself,” he says of his decision to leave L.A. “But I found a kind of new awakening in medicine. And since then, I've had such an amazing time. I absolutely don't regret a single moment.”

Now, through dance and movement, he’s been able to “bring joy" to patients, doctors and nurses, he says, "who might not have had that opportunity.”

“I’ve been working through COVID and have just been extremely busy,” he says, adding that he still finds time to teach dance at a local studio, where he’s witnessed the healing powers of dance firsthand. “I’ve had friends, especially little dancers, who have lost friends and family [to the virus],” he explains, adding that parents have “felt so moved by what their what little ones can accomplish," and that dancing adults have appreciated "being able to try to relieve any stress…”

Martinson received a number of positive messages from strangers across the country — something he's using as an opportunity to empower young people.

“I had a girl ask me, ‘What can I do to be you?’ I told her, ‘Under no circumstance, don't become me.’ I said, ‘I had hardships. I had so many things happened to me. Don't take whatever route I've taken to come here. Live your life to become you. Wanting to and aspiring to be something or someone that you're not quite yet, or something that seems a little out of place, isn't as fun. Become you. Take a moment for yourself and just be you because one day, when we're all old, we're gonna regret wanting to try to be someone else.'”

“All of us are still continuing to find our dance,” he continues. “I mean, I know I am still. My only advice for young adults, adults in general, or teams that are coming up, is to never be OK with who you are today. Always strive to be a little different.”

“Don't be the same person you were two years ago. Don't be the scared person you were earlier today,” he adds. “Strive to put yourself first because you're the only one that matters in the end. You don't take anything with you when you leave this world other than yourself. So put yourself first." 

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