By Mia Ingram ’21 News Reporter
Like all performance group activities, the after-school dance program at Mercersburg Academy is operating very differently this fall due to new COVID-19 restrictions. All the same dance classes are offered: ballet, pointe, tap, modern, hip hop, and conditioning. However, this fall there are three levels of dance instead of two. Dancer Matthew Tavarez ’22 said, “The classes have become more specific for our levels, which is making it easier for each individual dancer.”
Currently, there are squares marked off by tape in each of the dance studios that allow dancers to practice proper physical distancing. During each class in the Burgin Center for the Arts, the dancers leave the doors to the studio open to allow for aeration. Furthermore, after each class, students wipe the barres down thoroughly, as well as every other surface touched during the class.
Eva Speck-Ewer ’24 said, “The challenge for me in these past few weeks has been keeping my mask on. I find myself wanting to rip it off when I’m sweating or breathing heavily… which obviously happens a lot while dancing.” This has been an issue for most dancers as the studio is very hot, and the dancers have had to move in ways they haven’t for months.
The dance program is planning on holding its usual fall concert, but it will look vastly different. Dancers will film their performances ahead of time, and they will turn them into a live-streamed video on the night that the in-person concert would have taken place. One of the more exciting opportunities this fall is being able to think outside the box. Tavarez said, “We can force the viewer angles and use cinematography to make our dances look even better.”
This new medium gives dancers multiple chances to make their performances perfect. Rose Potter ’21 said, “I’m really excited for the dance concert. Since it’s virtual this year we aren’t limited to filming on stage I think that opens up some really cool opportunities for site specific pieces.” The videotaped performance allows the program to refilm or edit in order to provide the best performance given the circumstances.
The performance is slowly creeping upon them, so dancers have already started choreographing. Speck-Ewer said, “So far, I have really enjoyed how quickly we got into learning the choreography. Starting from day one, I’ve been dancing and learning.”
The plans for the winter and spring terms are up in the air, except for a few aspects. Denise Dalton, the Director of Dance at Mercersburg Academy, said, “We still plan on having a Winter Student Dance Showcase featuring only student choreographed pieces and a Spring Dance Concert as well. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring in guest choreographer, Jacki Sinclair, to work with the dancers in the spring.” While many aspects of the dance program are different this fall, dance continues to grow as a new family and cannot wait to share its performances with the greater community.