Students’ spring shows go virtual

Public parks, dorm rooms, parking garages, and even a cemetery all provide backdrops in Penn Dance Company’s newest spring show, “Premiere.” In an abnormal year of dancing in masks six-feet apart and toting video gear to the top of a parking deck, Olivia Wang, president of Penn Dance Company, says,  “I think we’ve all just had to get creative.” 

Four dancers wearing masks performing in an outdoor parking area.
Still from the virtual performance of Penn Dance Company’s spring show, “Premiere.” (Image: The Pennsylvania Gazette)

But there’s a small silver lining to COVID-19 restrictions forcing nearly all student shows to go virtual this year: for the first time, alumni who are nowhere near campus can tune in and watch the full performances, which are cropping up throughout this month and next as Facebook livestreams, Zooms, and YouTube posts.

Wang says it became clear to her group last semester that their spring show would have to be virtual, just as their fall show had been. The journey to “Premiere,” which debuted on the group’s YouTube channel last weekend, “was such a long process,” she says, starting with choreography and then Zoomed rehearsals, which brought their own challenges. “A lot of people are in dorms,” she notes, “and that’s not a lot of space.”

New options sprouted up as the spring semester began, but they also involved strict regulations to prevent any potential spread of COVID-19. Penn’s Platt House offered groups scheduled time slots to use the top two levels of an outdoor parking garage for virtual performances. They also supplied professional video editors to help stitch students’ footage together into a polished virtual performance.

This story is by Molly Petrilla. Read more at The Pennsylvania Gazette.