Dance like nobody’s watching: Archer’s dance program adjusts rehearsals due to remote learning

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Photo credit: Andrea Locke

In the virtual space, members of Archer’s dance program have had to readjust and readapt their usual rehearsals for this semester. In preparation for the annual Night of Dance performance in the winter, all members of the program have been collectively rehearsing their respective dances via Zoom.

By Vaughan Anoa'i and Thea Leimone

With inverted camera angles, slow internet, lagging music and isolation, Archer’s dance company has faced many forms of “difficulty” in the virtual space, according to junior Dance Company member Emily Cadenas. Due to the effects of COVID-19, members of Archer’s dance program were forced to adjust to remote rehearsals via Zoom while working around a modified school schedule, all in preparation for their annual Night of Dance performance in the winter.

Dance teacher Andrea Locke, who co-leads the dance program along with Reed Farley, has been conducting hybrid rehearsals for all members of Archer’s dance troupe and dance company in the remote space.

“The preparation that goes into executing a rehearsal is actually much more detailed and engagement on the part of the teacher,  because we’re not in the same room where a lot of the nuances of movement can be seen and felt,” Locke said in a recent interview conducted via Zoom.

While Locke and Farley have been working around the obstacles that arise when teaching through Zoom, members of the company have faced their own challenges having to retain and execute the choreography taught through their classes.

“It’s very difficult sometimes because she will have to teach us the choreography looking at us and then also facing behind us,” Cadenas said. “She has to turn around so that we can see through our eyes how we would move and the first couple of times it was difficult to pick up.”

In regards to the Night of Dance performance, Locke said she aims to focus on the interconnectedness and expression of dance which she has incorporated into this year’s theme.

Synergy being our theme which is really focused on the interconnection between each other and the universe which is why we’re using the metaphor of planets,” Locke said. “That’s the driving force of our theme this year in the dances that are being presented.”

Although apart, dancers said they felt the theme of interconnectedness as well as the importance of working as a “cohesive” group in times of isolation.

“It made me realize how much of an impact actually being with my company has on me,” senior and Dance Company member Bella Bernhardt said. “Instead of being one cohesive piece we are all individual pieces, and one of the really nice parts about the show and the dance program overall is the bonding we get.”

Within the remote space, dancers have come to realize the benefits behind rehearsing alone and engaging further within self-reflection time.

“I think the positives are being more free, where you don’t have the pressure of other people looking at you,” Cadenas said. “I feel I’m becoming more confident during these classes.”

While dancers will continue to rehearse virtually for the remainder of the semester, Bernhardt is still “unsure” how the Night of Dance performance will be conducted this year.

“We’re still not exactly sure how we’re going to do the show now,” Bernhardt said. “Whether that be us doing it socially distanced outside or if it’s us individually recording ourselves and piecing it together, we’re all gonna try our hardest and put in as much effort as we would if we were actually in school.”