Dance practice cancelled due to COVID-19

Dance classes and rehearsals have been temporarily suspended at the University of Central Oklahoma due to COVID-19 safety precautions. In an email Friday, dance students were informed their classes for the remainder of the week would be held virtually in a zoom setting rather than meeting in-person. 

“This week will allow us to reset, do some extra cleaning in the studios and make sure we are putting the health of students and faculty first. … There are some students quarantined but there are enough students to continue next week,” the email stated. 

Students were informed on Friday, in-person classes would resume Sept. 28. The impacts of the suspension should be minimal on rehearsal time according to the email. Rehearsals and class practice have been rescheduled so no students lose any time to prepare for any upcoming performances. 

However, some students are concerned that the closure will not be an isolated incident and could impact their craft later in the semester. COVID-19 has impacted how they learn and rehearse, instructors are not able to physically correct a student’s posture or stance and there can be no partner or group work due to the social distancing regulations on campus. 

Abby Welch, a dance performance spring 2019 graduate, is seen here using aerial silks with current dance performance major Nathaniel Tylor in last year’s Kaleidoscope Dance concert. Kaleidoscope Dancers will perform this year at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21-23 in Mitchell Hall Theatre on Central’s campus.

Ravin Ray, a Dance Major at UCO, has been dancing since she was three years old. She performed ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop until she graduated in 2018. 

“Dance means so much to me. It’s my escape. I used to not have any rhythm at all and the more and more I danced I loved watching videos of myself each year from the dance recitals to see how much I was improving,” Ray stated in an email. 

“By the time I was 15 I was in love with dance and wanted to do it the rest of my life,” Ray stated. 

Ray explained the impacts of this suspension isn’t about her rehearsal time, but rather on her overall mental and emotional health. 

“With the dance department shutting down this week I didn’t go out at all besides to work and be on the newscast on UCentral news on Monday and Wednesday,” Ray stated.

“I feel more tired, the lazier I was this week. I’m used to moving across a huge room sweating and constantly just moving my body. I’ve felt like crap all week and tried to keep myself engaged on zoom in the classes but just didn’t feel the same. We had to cancel rehearsals this week as well so we couldn’t even move freely on our own with no professors around either. I’m just ready to be moving across that room in my mask again,” Ray stated. 

This attitude is reciprocated by another dance student, Devyne Hawkins, a dance minor and soon-to-be dance major, spoke about his love for the craft and how the coronavirus has impacted his ability to perform. 

Hawkins has also been dancing since he was two years old. Once in high school, his focus was in the art of ballet. He will be switching from a minor to a major in spring 2021, and is currently needing to practice for that audition. 

Hawkins spoke about how the closure of the department scared him because he needed this time to practice for that audition so he can pursue his dreams of dancing and one day opening his own dance studio. 

He also expressed concern that the department would not disclose who tested positive for COVID-19. 

“Plus, I’ve been around dance majors who were around the girl who has COVID. So that was something, they won’t say who she is so I don’t know if I’ve been around her personally,” Hawkins said. 

There are two upcoming dance events according to the UCO Department of Dance website. The High School Day of Dance is Oct 10. from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The event is open to high school students and there is a $35 registration fee.

It includes participation in two dance workshops: Aerial, Hip Hop, Jazz, Ballet, and/or Modern, snack and optional guided campus tour before the workshops. Students can also secure an adjudication slot as a solo, duet or group to receive written critique and feedback for their performance from UCO dance faculty. Space is limited, register online or email or call 405-974-3754 

The other is a three day event Nov. 19-21, Kaleidoscope Dance Company Concert presents a one-of-a-kind dance performance featuring new and innovative choreography from UCO faculty and guest artists. It is at 7:30 p.m. in the Mitchell Hall Theatre.

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