As we reach the end of this unusual semester, I want to express my appreciation to faculty, staff and students for being so open and willing to improvise and adapt to such a challenging period of time. In Dance, we continue to follow CDC guidelines. We require masks of teachers and students, limit the number of students in spaces, set up technology that has enabled us to teach students in multiple spaces at the same time, cleaned rigorously, and so much more. We offer students online, hybrid and F2F classes and, while dance is difficult to teach through screens, we have made the best of our constraints. We have learned together, and, yet, I am grateful that we are at the end of this semester.
Some positive things have happened during this period, including learning from guest lecturers and teachers from other parts of the country, adding depth and diversity to our program. Mid-semester, Production Designer Mark Hofeling joined my choreography class to talk about space and design for film, and he will return with Architect Nathan Webster, and dancer/educator Kate Linsley (Ballet West, NOW-ID, Nashville Ballet) and Kyla Olson for the final choreography class review.
We also managed to bring in Joffrey Ballet dancer Yumelia Garcia to teach ballet master classes. Also, this year, our season in Dance will be Dance for the Camera. Starting this fall with our student choreographers - due to COVID restrictions--we required them to pursue a different kind of journey for this year' annual Fall Dance Festival - we asked dance students to work with a videographer in a site-specific context. They all embraced the challenge with curiosity and enthusiasm, and a willingness to explore new ways of presenting and shaping dance for the camera. Fall Dance this year was at the Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theatre in Lubbock where we presented an evening of 8 diverse, short films, each addressing the political and the personal in uniquely different ways.
From two of our student choreographers:
Creating a piece for Fall Dance Festival this semester was an incredible experience that came with many unexpected obstacles. I really enjoyed working with college age dancers, something that I had not been able to do before this semester. The level of professionalism that my cast had is something I was extremely grateful for but did not expect from dancers who are also my peers. They were always willing to work hard to help me bring my piece to life.
I believe that this professionalism is widespread throughout the dance community at Texas Tech. I faced challenges working on this piece as well, as we were assigned to create dance films instead of dance pieces created for a live performance as done in years past. Being completely new to creating dance films, the other choreographers and I had to outsource on our own to find videographers and editors to collaborate with to help.. While challenging, it was a great experience to work with other professionals like Sarah Brandon, who helped me film and edit my piece.
Along with creating a piece for film, we were encouraged to have our piece be site specific due to COVID restrictions. The site I chose for my piece was outdoors, where cars driving, trains passing and pedestrians walking by created some obstacles for filming purposes. We had to really get to know our space and spend a lot of time rehearsing there so that when it came time to film, my cast and I were fully prepared for any obstacles we may face. Before this semester, creating a dance film was something I really had no interest in because it seemed intimidating and foreign, but I would be very interested in creating another one in the future. I am thankful for the Texas Tech School of Theater and Dance and especially my dance professors whose guidance set me up to be successful this semester in creating my own piece.
Fall Dance Festival was a whirlwind this semester. It was very challenging but amazing experience for myself, my dancers, and my videographer. We were exposed to things we never would have encountered prior to the pandemic. Some highlights of mine were getting to work with a student from another college (Eli Jimenez) and the collaboration between the dancers and my videographer. It was also an interesting learning experience being able to play with different angles of the camera.
Jumping into a foreign situation was scary and new. This semester was a good steppingstone into the many opportunities that I see in dance on film. I gained insight on dance on film during this semester. I also gained a lot of respect for video editing in general. I am definitely interested in pursuing dance on film in my future. I appreciate what the element of video can do to the meaning of a work. Having the power and control to decide what the audience can see is not normally a luxury found in dance on the stage. I appreciate the dance faculty and staff for taking this awful pandemic and turning it into opportunity. I will never forget the experiences that I have had the privilege to experience this semester in dance.
Know that I thank everyone for all they have given this year. May your holiday season be full of gratitude and, as shared just a few months ago: