Stay connected through dance
- Aurelia Spaulding
- Thursday, April 16th, 2020
Pictured: Amanda Clark, Dance Program Coordinator and Professor, teaches a tap dancing class using Zoom video conferencing.
“We work extremely closely with the students throughout their four years, in dance classes, as advisors, and in rehearsals for dance concerts. We are very much a family,” said Amanda Clark, Dance Program Coordinator and Professor.
The WKU Dance Program offers approximately 50 dance majors led by four full-time dance faculty. Although the switch to an online format presented difficulties with the initial transition, Dance faculty continue to match theory with instruction all while maintaining connections with their students.
One approach to remaining connected to students included meeting each weekend via Zoom with a different class of dance majors.
“At first, we wanted to reach out to the seniors who were missing out on their final experiences in the dance studio and their final dance concert, etc. But then, we found that the check- in chat with the juniors was equally important to them as well,” Clark said. “I think the check-in chats are letting the students know that their dance faculty is still invested in their learning, that the semester is not over and they are not forgotten and that we are in this with them.”
The dedication of faculty, staff, and students continue despite recent changes that have brought innovative ways to teach and practice when unable to be face-to-face.
“We are still working through the warmup movement and phrases that we started early in the semester. We are working through spatial and focus adaptations due to the shift in location and size of space,” said Meghen McKinley, Assistant Professor in Dance.
Clark added, “I have not really altered the format of this course. We are still focusing on tap dance technique and their historical/creative component remains the same.”
The dance classes continue to assess students through video submissions – a process practiced prior to online learning.
“Final projects usually are group pieces that dancers work on developing through our continued discussions. I am reformatting this to have duets be created from digital explorations,” McKinley said. “Dancers will work in pairs through Zoom to create a final project that is collaborative and taking the screen as their stage space into consideration as they build.”
To view students closer, Clark discussed the use of breakout rooms. “I am utilizing break out rooms so that I can see smaller groups of students dance at a time,” she said. Space logistics and flooring presented the biggest challenges according to Clark, but she understands the importance of social distancing. “We want the students to still learn and be engaged, but we must keep them safe as well.”
The WKU Dance Program offers a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. All dancers study ballet, jazz, modern, and tap dance. Students may also receive the opportunity to study pointe, partnering, and theatre dance. For more information on the WKU Department for Theatre and Dance, visit https://www.wku.edu/theatre-and-dance/.