By MK Saye
Perhaps the most asked question of students today is, “How is this going to work?” Certainly this is a question at the forefront of the minds of athletes and artists. Dancers at Sewanee, in particular, have risen to the occasion and are prepared to show that while things may look a little different, there will be no loss of passion.
Like many extracurriculars, there were necessary changes that had to be made when it came to dancing. For this semester, technique classes are still available, and each dancer is provided their own square to dance in and a sports mask made for athletes. In terms of choreography, no more than five dancers can dance at a time and dancers can only move parallel to each other. Because social distancing must be maintained, “choreographers and dancers will be exploring connection on stage and in the studio through movement and expression rather than physical proximity,” said Adelle Dennis (C’21).
It may seem at first that these new guidelines are restrictive to the freedom of movement dancers usually have. But, it has proven just the opposite. This season, dancers are experimenting with new ways to perform. One such way is through a project called “dance for camera” which allows for more than five dancers because it combines pre-recorded videos together to create something similar to a music video. Some choreographers will be using a mix of recorded dancers on a projected screen and onstage dancers in order to include more than five dancers at one time.
These new forms of dancing give the opportunity for more intimate choreography that will make this dance season unique from the rest. When discussing a piece she’s choreographing, Hall confessed that if it weren’t for the new safety protocols set in place, she wouldn’t have reimagined her duet in the way she did. In her duet, she is using social distancing to her advantage and separating her two dancers to communicate that “the person you’re in a relationship with may be going through the same things” but doesn’t show it.
The theme for DanceWise this year focuses around the word “sensational” and the many ways that can be interpreted. Dances will revolve around “sensitivity, sensation, sensory, senselessness, sensationalism, coming to your senses, making sense,” explained Courtney World, assistant professor of dance.
Like Hall, Dennis will be choreographing a duet. Dennis describes her duet as exploring “the sensation of isolation, and the depression and sense of loss and disconnect that can accompany that isolation.”
Another choreographer, Caroline Gurek (C’23), will explore the senses in a more literal way, focusing her dance around “how we express our feelings through our bodies and how we tell stories.”
DanceWise performances are tentatively planned to take place in November with four shows that will be live-streamed and a limited number of tickets will be available to view the shows in person. When asked what was most exciting about this strange time, Dennis, Gurek, and Hall all agreed that the creativity this new time will require is what has motivated them. It is apparent that despite the difficulties and inconvenience, the ideas these dancers are ready to bring to life may just be the touch of beauty this world desperately needs right now.