Choreographer Showcase Impacted by COVID-19

Before C0VID-19, the dancers could dance in close proximity, unlike now.

Anna Langford

Before C0VID-19, the dancers could dance in close proximity, unlike now.

Frances Mendieta-Castro, Reporter

Valencia College’s Dance Department hosted a virtual Choreographer’s Showcase on November 13th and 14th. Because of the pandemic, Valencia had to make some adjustments this year to their showcase. The choreographers and dancers had to adjust the number of dancers in order to meet CDC guidelines.

Anna Langford, one of the choreographers, gave us a first-hand look at the dancer’s perspective. When asked how COVID-19 affected their rehearsals, dance routines, and the dancers, she told us before the pandemic hit, they were able to dance in pairs, after that had to dance alone.

Considering all the social distancing rules they had to dance over six feet apart, with their masks on at all times. The dancers were no longer allowed to use props and the choreographers had to limit the amount of dancers they were using in their showcase. Having had the opportunity to rehearse on the racket ball courts before COVID-19, then converting to using the Lobby of building six must have taken some adjusting.

For grades, the dancers had to meet the teacher via Zoom. The hardest adjustment Anna mentioned was, “not being able to dance for a live audience was really heartbreaking for us dancers, as performing for people is one of our favorite parts about being a dance major”. Langford then went on to say how grateful she is for being given the opportunity to be able to dance again and is “excited to watch the final filming product.”

Suzanne Salapa, Chair, department of dance was also kind enough to give us some insight on what it is like after the pandemic hit. Salapa mentioned the choreographers and the dancers met between two to three times a week. “Life on campus is an incredible gift and we do not take one minute of our time for granted.” The student choreographers had to have good time management, an understanding of the new safety protocol to keep the dancers safe, and instead of six feet the dancers did 7-9 feet with their masks on. Salapa said that on a normal basis, the Choreographers begin at the beginning of summer in search for their theme and music, from there they get two months to come up with their piece, auditions are held, and then choreographers start their rehearsals.

The choreographers show their work for an audience of seven people from the dance faculty, only to go back to rehearsals. Having to switch to a virtual showcase, the dancers and choreographers lost a month of rehearsal time.  With the choreographers and dancers having adjusted quickly, Salapa stated, “these students are incredible!”

It seems to me that, though, having to go through the pandemic affected everyone in one-way shape or form. The choreographers and dancers did an amazing job adjusting and making the best of the situation they were given. With the help of all the faculty in the dance department and the custodial staff at Valencia, the transition back was made as easy as it could have been.