Editor's Note: The Collegian managing editor is co-captain of University Dancers.
The University Dancers' 36th anniversary concert, TIME | IN | SPACE, will be available for streaming on March 19 at 7:30 p.m., and accessible to rewatch through March 25.
Free tickets for the event are currently available online, through the Modlin Center for the Arts.
Preparations for the concert began in August and have differed this year to adhere with the University of Richmond's COVID-19 guidelines, Anne Van Gelder, UR's director of dance and UD’s artistic director, wrote in an email to The Collegian.
Dancers are required to wear masks at all times and maintain six feet of distance, Van Gelder wrote. Because of distancing requirements and capacity limits, the Alice Jepson Theater has been used for UD classes and rehearsals, in addition to studios, Van Gelder wrote.
Karen Fleming, UD co-captain and a student choreographer, said it has been difficult to adapt to dancing under COVID-19 protocols, but she is appreciative that she has still been able to dance.
“While it has been challenging to choreograph and certainly different during rehearsals, I have been incredibly grateful for the opportunity to perform during these times,” Fleming said.
Although COVID-19 guidelines presented challenges, they also led to new ideas, such as the use of video and projection to make pieces more dynamic with fewer people.
“I’ve loved seeing how choreographers have adapted to the guidelines, as it’s led to the pieces all being so creative and different,” Fleming said.
TIME IN SPACE was filmed Feb. 21-26, Fleming said.
Filming certainly encountered challenges: some dancers had to quarantine after being identified as close contacts of people with COVID-19 and could no longer perform, she said.
UR also canceled classes for two days that week because of inclement weather, further requiring choreographers to quickly adapt their pieces, Fleming said.
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At the end of filming, many of the dances had been adapted multiple times, Fleming said.
Junior and UD company member Teresa Garavente felt many members did well applying changes on short notice.
“These quick changes to pieces have made each of us more adaptable, flexible and ready for whatever was thrown our way,” Garavente said.
Dancers and instructors who were unable to attend classes and rehearsals in person at various points used Zoom.
“Adaptability is key to success in dance," Van Gelder wrote. "With restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we are just adapting as we always do.”
Guest artists usually visit UR and choreograph in person, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they choreographed over Zoom.
“When it is safe to return to working with guest artists in person, we will do so, but we have definitely discovered that learning dance virtually is both possible and effective,” Van Gelder wrote.
Alexandra Damiani, Ephrat Asherie and Christopher Morgan were UD's guest choreographers this year; they instructed solely over Zoom.
“We were fortunate that all three guest artists were excited about shifting from the in-person to virtual residency,” Van Gelder wrote.
The concert was filmed during what would have been UD’s week of dress rehearsals in a regular year. However, throughout the academic year, dances were recorded throughout their creation, Fleming said, as dancers never knew whether they would be identified as a close contact or have to isolate.
The concert is currently being edited and will be available to stream rather than being performed multiple times with live audiences, as has been the case for all previous shows, Van Gelder wrote.
Garavente said there were some upsides to streaming the performance.
"It's upsetting that we can't perform alongside the energy of a live audience,” Garavente said. “But it is awesome knowing that we can send the live-stream link to all of our friends and family, no matter where they are.”
Contact lifestyle writer Alex Sprouls at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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