(Illustration by Riley Andersen)
In the era of social distancing, the students and faculty of Utah Valley University’s Department of Dance have had to drastically adjust both their learning and teaching styles. Following a summer of tireless work from the department’s faculty members to create a new curriculum, dance students are now learning through a hybrid classroom style with smaller groups of students being allowed on campus for face-to-face classes, the rest taking class remotely. They work on a week-to-week schedule so each student has time to train both virtually and in person at the studios.
“It was really hard to adapt to dancing on my own, in a different space, and being able to push myself just as hard as I would in the studio,” said Olivia Perry, a sophomore dance major with emphasis in ballet. “These same struggles still apply to now but I am actually very impressed with how the dance department has handled things. You can really tell just how much time, effort and thought they put into every aspect of this semester.”
“As the fine arts require constant refined feedback and micro adjustments in delivery of the curriculum, faculty must continually adjust instruction to maintain an optimal zone of learning,” assistant professor of dance, Mark Borchelt said. “The goal for faculty is less about delivering information and much more focused on establishing creative learning environments in which students are developing abilities and strategies for using knowledge in novel circumstances. Our rapidly accelerating world requires the ability to acknowledge multiple perspectives in any given situation as well as knowing how to look beyond dualistic thinking to see outcomes that provide positive, productive possibilities for all parties concerned.”
Even with so many changes to the curriculum and teaching style, the faculty and students of UVU’s Department of Dance have taken every blow in stride.
“I think that the dance department has definitely gone above and beyond to make the student body as a whole feel safer at school in classes,” said Makena Lyman, a sophomore dance major with an emphasis in ballet. “They’ve drawn boxes on the floor spacing each dancer 10 feet apart — giving plenty of space to move. They also have us wearing masks throughout the whole class, which at first is very exhausting and beyond sweaty, but your stamina gets better and it’s not so bad. They have us walk around the perimeter of the room in order to keep from walking in other dancers boxes and air flow. They have very carefully placed each dancer in a cohort or group so there are only about six dancers in class at a time while the other half of the class live streams in from home. We also end class about 15 minutes early to clean and sanitize the room — including the barres and floor.”
Associate professor of dance, Monica Campbell, has provided the full synopsis on precautions UVU’s Department of Dance has taken amid COVID-19 threats. Click the link below for more information.