As students head home and adjust to the schedule change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the arts on campus are coming to a halt. Musical theatre, cinema and media arts, dance majors, faculty and many others are figuring out what to do next amid these unfortunate circumstances.
“The AU dance department is already looking into how to deliver online instruction for a dance course,” said assistant professor of dance Erich Yetter. “This is not a highly developed area due to the experiential nature of performing arts courses, but challenging times call for thinking out of the box.”
Yetter said there are resources such as live webinars, online discussion boards and blog sites that the department is pursuing, but nothing can ultimately be the solution to a communal activity like dance.
“We realize that this is neither an ideal nor permanent situation and that this period of difficulty will pass by in time,” Yetter explained. “Meanwhile, we can carry on and assertively provide the best education for our students that we possibly can.”
The dance department’s spring showcase Spring into Dance was supposed to be held March 26 and 27, but has been postponed to May 2.
Director of Studio and Technical Operations Kris Rinas agrees that the hands-on learning aspects of the cinema and media arts majors will be hard to match using the E-learning platform.
“You can’t get multiple people in a room to do a live production when everybody is in a remote location,” Rinas said. “I’m trying to come up with ways that we can further the education process, but live within the restrictions that we’re not going to be able to be hands-on. What does that look like? I’m not sure yet; I’m still figuring that out.”
He said that he’s using real-world experiences like what television and sports networks are doing now to help him determine what he should do. Rinas is working to come up with ways for students in television and studio broadcast, audio concepts and more to do something that won’t just be busy work.
“I’m trying to think through opportunities where they can make a production on their own using equipment that they already have readily available like their smartphone,” Rinas said. “If you’re a senior, you’re graduating and you’re looking for a job, you can show them what you learned how to do under these circumstances and how you made the most of that moment.”
Being a new professor on campus, Rinas said there’s a benefit of being new because he hasn’t taught a whole semester of classes to students yet.
“This is just another part that I get to learn along the way,” he said. “I’m just relying on my time in the news industry where uncertainty was king, and you never got anxious about what you were going to do next because it was planned, but many times it was unplanned.”
Rinas also said that he’s going to rely on his faith in God and know that there is a plan and that they will come up with something beneficial—they just have to wait to find out what that is. He also said that to any of his students, he will be available and happy to talk via phone call, video call, etc. in this time of uncertainty.
The musical theatre department on campus had just started dress rehearsals for their upcoming spring musical “South Pacific” when they received the news of the extended break. Sophomore marketing and musical theatre major Jesse Hernandez said that this has caused a lot of difficulty as the actors and actresses prepare and practice their lines.
“It is very difficult to run the theme for any kind of a line in a scene without your partner,” Hernandez said. “Different from a monologue, you need to be able to act off of what your partner is doing in order for yourself to act the way you are supposed to.”
He said that as of right now, the musical will still be held on April 18 at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Anderson. There are specific ways the actors and actresses are still rehearsing without being together.
“I will be calling or Facetiming my fellow partners in specific scenes in order for us to keep the lines and acting fresh in our minds even though we will not be seeing each other face-to-face every day during rehearsal,” Hernandez said. “None of us are panicking about the performance or worrying about how it’s going to work out. We are simply waiting to see how things will turn out.
“This show is beautiful and we have already run through it with no stops. It is still far from perfect, but we are all excited to bring this musical to the Anderson community.”