Despite the fully online mode of the fall semester, many talented dance and performing arts groups at Hopkins participated in the Dance O-Show on Monday, Sept. 7. Each group gave a quick introduction about their group members, style of dance, past performances and their plans for continuing to dance despite the virtual format.
Nicoleen Willson, director of Homewood Arts Programs, spoke about the frustrations many of the performing arts groups have felt due to their inability to rehearse in person and the difficulties the groups will face in welcoming new members. Every group, however, has plans to continue dancing, bonding and welcoming new members this semester.
“I know several of the groups already have online rehearsals and workshops planned,” Willson said. “We definitely miss all being together and are trying to make the best out of not being able to.”
Many groups, including the Ladybirds Dance Team, Modern Dance Company, Zinda, SLAM, Blue Jay Bhangra, Eclectics and many more, have committed to online rehearsals through Zoom. Jess Intile from Modern Dance Company commented on her group’s success transitioning to online formats.
“We did pretty well transitioning to Zoom rehearsals and classes this summer. It is a little different, of course, but we learned some new fun improv games and methods for adapting,” Intile said. “Modern is offering free and open classes starting this week, so definitely come try it out!”
Furthermore, these performing arts groups are hosting more than just rehearsals and auditions through Zoom. Many groups are even participating in bonding activities and mentorship programs to help new members feel as though they are a part of a community despite the distance.
Avi Kirpekar, one of the captains of Zinda, spoke about their attempts to include new members in their group.
“We’re planning on having a few zoom practices a week in addition to some bonding events (movie nights, game nights, etc.). We’re also hoping to include more members in the choreography process, including new members, so it will definitely be more interactive for our team,” he said.
Shubhi Verma from Blue Jay Bhangra echoed Kirpekar’s sentiments, hoping to host bonding activities and a mentorship program within the group to help guide new members.
“With the online format, we’re now doing everything virtually from workshops to tryouts to practices. We’re also putting a really large emphasis on bonding events like game nights this year to make sure we stay close,” Verma sad. “We’ll also be doing some pairing with old members so new members have mentorship right away!”
For the students that aren’t sure they want to join a performing arts group or are nervous about the auditions, Willson noted that Homewood Arts Programs are putting on free virtual dance classes.
While the likelihood of a large group performance is slim, these dance groups are still hoping to create their own creative performances. Rasa Forati from SLAM spoke about the group’s hope to create a video featuring team members performing their own choreography.
“Our end goal is to make a dance video that includes videos of us all performing our set. It’s not quite the same as when we were in person, but we're making extra time for team bonding to make up for it,” Forati said.
Michael Lin from Eclectics shared similar hopes for his group’s performance:
“We plan on compiling videos from our members to create an online performance video, but we are also planning social events so we can hopefully provide an inclusive, welcoming family (even if it is in this online format),” he said.
Despite current obstacles, performing arts groups are continuing to show their resilience through online rehearsals and auditions and adapted bonding activities to make sure new members still feel welcome and part of something exciting. The challenges are certainly there, but every group is determined to do whatever it can to overcome them and make the most of this year.