Collage of six images from web cameras of dance students practicing yoga

Remote classes keep dance students on their toes

When Case Western Reserve University leadership made the difficult but necessary decision to suspend on-campus learning, faculty in the Department of Dance had to think fast. Dance is a physical event, with dancers typically performing together and requiring open spaces. Department of Dance Chair Karen Potter knew some students might only have a small portion of a living room or bedroom to participate.

On March 24, Potter and dance professor Gary Galbraith held their first technique class on Zoom, accompanied by the department’s longtime pianist, Karin Tooley. The class was open to all graduate students and undergraduate dance majors.

Word spread on social media and several alumni joined in as well from places as disparate as China, Florida, New York, Texas and Wisconsin. Mikayla Heinrich-Wong, a first-year dance major, had to rise a bit early to join the class from her home state of Hawaii. “It was a great solution to these crazy times,” she said.

In addition, the faculty had to think about how to handle the fact that two spring shows, Kaleido and Imagatorium, were canceled, and dancers approaching graduation wouldn’t be able to perform for their MFA thesis and senior capstone projects.

Students and faculty alike are saddened by the change to performances, Potter noted. “And suddenly not dancing as much is further affecting everyone,” she said.

To help alleviate stress and bring the dancers together in a non-academic environment, second-year MFA student Katie Nabors now offers a virtual yoga session on Tuesdays.

First-year dance major Lauren Robinson finds the yoga class “therapeutic.”

“As awesome as it is to participate in other live workouts and classes, it was that much better to workout with the Mather Dance Family and see the smiling faces of my peers,” Robinson said. “I feel a huge difference in my morale whenever I experience dance classes like this, and it helped me feel less alone in this crazy situation.”