The College of Wooster Department of Theatre and Dance has released its Fall 2020 Dance Concert in a video compilation. Emily Baird, director of the Fall Dance Concert and visiting assistant professor of theatre and dance, noted that several changes were made to maintain the safety of those involved in the production that’s normally performed with the audience seated around all four sides of the dance floor.
“The fall concert is always an opportunity for students to showcase their skills and creativity in the areas of dance, design, and production, and this year was no different,” said Baird. The final production composed of seven finished pieces is available for viewing online.
“The choreography, dancing, costuming, filming, lighting, and editing were all done by the students. I consider the production to be a real accomplishment, especially during a pandemic,” said Baird, noting that “putting on a dance concert in the middle of a pandemic was challenging.” Auditions and meetings were held over Zoom, adding technical difficulties. During the production of the show, dancers had to wear masks and practice social distancing, limiting artistic decisions such as facial expressions and partnered dancing. Every aspect of the production of the concert had to be flexible. “The abrupt shift to remote learning in October was hard, but students showed dedication and resilience,” Baird said. “Some choreographers had to make tough decisions about how to continue their piece now that they couldn’t gather to rehearse, or now that a dancer was moving home for the rest of the semester. They found ways for some dancers studying remotely to perform alongside dancers that were on campus all in the same piece.”
The changes did not come without some interesting silver linings, Baird acknowledged, “The choreographers were able to become more like directors of their own dance films. They were responsible not just for the movement, but for every aspect of how their piece came together.” She added that students learned new skills in video editing and found ways to think outside the box. According to choreographer Olivia Kline ’22, “Although the change in location was unexpected, it ended up adding an element to the piece that would have been unavailable on the stage,” Kline said, reflecting on the piece that was filmed, “on a hill here on campus that gave a different element of depth to the piece it wouldn’t have had on the stage.” Another choreographer, Reyka VanSickle ’21, loved the ability to change the setting. “It gave me a chance to explore the campus within a creative lens and utilize the locations in a fun and unique way,” she explained. “One of the most iconic parts of my piece, in my opinion, was a section we did using the Kauke steps. The steps added an interesting addition of levels, and it also was cool to have a well-known Wooster landmark in the piece.”
Ultimately, the final product is a success in the eyes of those involved. “This concert gave all of us as dancers and choreographers an interesting and unique challenge and allowed us to get out of our comfort zones creatively in various ways,” said VanSickle. “We were not only the choreographers, but we were the videographers and editors and got to truly guide the audience’s eyes in a completely new way. It was a privilege to be a part of the process.”