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Dancing in the dark: Westminster dancers create way to perform during pandemic

Westminster College alum Cole Spooner watches a dance performance projected onto the Gore School of Business Oct. 26. “Glint: A Projection Installation of Dance and Darkness” is the first hybrid dance event to take place on campus this year, allowing Westminster dancers to perform for the first time since the pandemic began. (Melissa Reeves)

When the pandemic hit, many in-person dance classes turned into online Zoom links. Group performances were soon solo practice. Large performances were suddenly canceled.  

“We went so long without performing, so it’s still really cool that people get to come and view dance again,” said Claire Mischel, a sophomore biology major.

Despite the chilly weather, the Westminster College campus was unusually bright on Monday. Video projections of artwork bounced across Converse Hall and Bassis Student Center. There was a glimmer of hope amid the dark night, illuminating the campus with works of art. 

“Glint: A Projection Installation of Dance and Darkness” is an event led by the Westminster College Dance Company. The group — which includes faculty and students — worked diligently to showcase student work while meeting COVID-19 guidelines.  

Dance videos were filmed, edited and then projected onto various campus walls at night. Current students and alumni collaborated throughout the semester to create the projects.

“As artists, we got together and looked at the limitations and restrictions as a springboard to creativity,” said Meghan Wall, assistant professor and chair of the dance program. 

The idea for a hybrid showcase originated in August. 

“It’s really around the metaphor about being in our boxes in the dark,” Wall said. “It’s this idea of illuminating light and the glimmer of hope.” 

Planning an event during a pandemic can be tricky, but Carly Schaub, adjunct dance faculty member, had the idea for a virtual show. 

“We chose to do dance films because exploring the screen dance genre is important,” Schaub said. “Everything is already prerecorded and we’re just setting it up at different locations, creating a museum-like atmosphere.” 

The event, although starkly different from the large stage performances of the past, was welcomed by students. 

“All of our students are really interested in performing live, of course, but this generation is so used to TikTok and dancing for screens already,” Schaub said. “Everyone seemed to be willing to do it this way.” 

One of the student performers was unsure at first how the event would turn out. 

“At first I was skeptical,” Claire Mischel said. “I didn’t get how this would work.”

But as the collaborative process began, Mischel said it all came together. The sophomore biology major held her exhibit on two pillars between the Dick Science Building and the Giovale Library, focusing her video on the basics of ballet. 

“I wanted to highlight what our feet go through [during dance] and what it means to be a dancer in the simplest form,” Mischel said. “It was fun to see it all come together because it’s a completely different way of dancing.”

Even though Mischel had never produced or performed a screen dance before, she said the process was exciting.

Although the future concerning dance performances remains uncertain, Mischel is looking forward to being able to express herself and showcase her art.

“Knowing people still want to support [dance] is really heartwarming,” Mischel said. “Being able to perform again is really comforting to know that performing never went away, it was just delayed.”  

“Glint: A Projection Installation of Dance and Darkness” runs Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 across campus beginning at 7:30 p.m. 

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Melissa Reeves
Melissa Reeves is a senior communication student. She is a Pacific Northwest native who moved to Utah to avoid the rain. She thoroughly enjoys overpriced coffee and long walks around her college housing. When she's not scouring Salt Lake City for gluten-free food, you can find her on the lacrosse field.

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