Dancing through COVID-19

Before+COVID-19%2C+Orchesis+was+allowed+to+meet+up+in+a+large+group+and+practice.+Orchesis+finds+much+difficulty+to+practice+due+to+COVID-19+restrictions.+However%2C+through+Zoom+and+Flipgrid%2C+the+team+has+managed+to+still+learn+new+dances+and+share+them.

Photo by and used with permission of Sydney Jaffe

Before COVID-19, Orchesis was allowed to meet up in a large group and practice. Orchesis finds much difficulty to practice due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, through Zoom and Flipgrid, the team has managed to still learn new dances and share them.

Annette Suk, Business Manager

The theater and the field house are unusually vacant, devoid of sports teams practicing or performances being held. Typically, the stage would be busy with performances from the orchestra or from the musicals. The field gym would be packed with hundreds of students watching the performances of POMS or Orchesis. During the short time when school was open, Orchesis had the chance of meeting up and practicing. However, they were only able to meet twice before the school shut down and they are still contemplating over whether they will have a spring show or not.

However, the team is finding ways to make Orchesis work. The freshmen are working over Zoom and Flipgrid to practice their dances and their sponsor, Cara Obrochta, is hoping to have a performance in April, May, or June, depending on how COVID affects the school. When practicing, the team was in the cafeteria. 

“We practiced in the cafeteria just because that had the most room at the time,” Sydney Jaffe, senior and president, said. “We’d use the whole cafeteria. We had masks obviously, and we would try to keep our distance. If we touched any desks and we wipe them down.”

Jaffe was shocked by the number of freshmen that joined the team this year. She felt that there was no publicity for the auditions due to COVID-19, but she notes that it is a “nice thing”. Jaffe’s job as president is to run the auditions for the freshmen along with running rehearsals and choreographing extra dances.

“[Practice] wasn’t as bad as I thought just because I’ve been dancing at my studio, so I kind of knew how things were gonna run. We were just more conscious about where people were and spacing things,” Jaffe said. 

According to Hannah Wilkerson, freshman, Orchesis typically meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, depending on the dance, the team meets once every two weeks. The team attempts to meet on Zoom as much as possible due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Since everything is closed, we’re just trying to get on zooms as much as possible. I just had a zoom for freshmen dance. And we’re teaching through videos so we’re just trying to do that as much as possible. I hope we have a final performance, whether it’s outside or something. We’re trying to stay connected,” Wilkerson said.

Even with the restrictions, Wilkerson was able to choreograph a dance with two others. She states that while it was difficult to teach the routine over Zoom, she said it was “really fun to choreograph” and it “worked out really well”.

“I choreographed [the dance] with two other girls. We actually taught our whole dance through Flipgrid videos. We made a video for each section and then sent it out to all the girls in the dance and that actually worked out really well. It was actually really fun to choreograph,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson wishes the team was back in person, as she states it is easier to work as a whole team and create formations for the dances. She said communication is a lot more difficult when the team is at home.

“It’s definitely a lot easier in person just for the fact that when we’re in person, you go in and you stay there the whole time. At home, we’re doing a little bit less, but there are some challenges with that,” Wilkerson said. “Communication [is difficult], because with dancing you can’t see everyone and you can’t do formations, especially choreographing a dance and being in dances. Formation wise it, it’s a lot harder to.”