The new normal for the dance and theatre programs

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In the dance studio, students now follow new social distancing guidelines and each of them have a designated spot six feet apart from each other to limit contact between all of them. “Although it may not seem this way, COVID hasn’t really had a huge impact in our dance progress but just affected us with the new class social distancing policy which is very smart,” senior dancer Lily Parella said (Photo submitted/Lily Parella).

As the months of fine art performances approach, COVID-19 has impacted the programs just like it has with so many other things. With students either remaining home for distance learning or coming into school practicing social distancing, the Fine Arts department enacted many changes to keep their programs active this year. Among the most significant of all the changes to these activities exists in the amount of virtual substitute ways of displaying the arts. 

Veteran senior dancer Nat Garcia explained that all dancers have their own designated spot in the classroom six feet apart from one another, and that all club auditions and most of their meetings are all online. “Dance is unfortunately really different due to COVID but we’re making the most of it,” she said.

Another senior dancer, Lily Parella explained that the upcoming dancer concert in Dec. will be virtual. “The concert will be recorded ahead of time and will be on a livestream for families, students, faculty and more,” Parella said. 

Along with the dance group, the theatre program has also been hit hard by the pandemic. In the professional industry, Broadway remains shut from the start of quarantine and will continue to stay closed until at least 2021. For the Patriot theatre program, head of the Fine Arts department Mr. Johnpaul Moccia  enacted policies to keep the department up and running. Senior thespian Maddy Winkler informed that a lot of activity happens online, and that rehearsals typically can’t occur in person. 

“Many schools including Heritage are making an effort to continue the art digitally by live streaming shows similar to a movie, allowing audiences to stream in to watch performances,” Winkler said. “Also, our yearly Thespians competition has experienced lots of changes as it is now entirely digitized for both the regional and state level.”

Currently, the theatre group actively works on planning and adjusting to put a show together. An original musical entitled “Unraveling” and the play called “Under Milk Wood” are both scheduled for sometime in the Fall. Both of these performances plan to be completely virtual, and, “Lots of new technical opportunities are surfacing as much more effort is going to have to be put in to make both musicals and plays digitized,” Winkler said. 

In addition to the changes of the operational methods for these programs due to COVID-19, this unique year also created consequences for senior performers trying to advance to the next level of fine arts in college. 

Dancer Garcia and thespian Winkler wish to apply to college for their performing talents, and both of them face the same challenges and changes to that application process.

Garcia plans on applying to more than half of her colleges for dance, but the pandemic has made it even harder to show off her talent to these schools. “Most of the auditions are now online which is kind of upsetting because I can’t really get a feel of the environment and really stick out to the judges, though I’m still going to make the most of it,” Garcia said. 

Winkler also plans on continuing her theatre career in college, and she expressed that the biggest change in applying to colleges for fine arts this year exists in the different process to get accepted. In years past, students applied to a college by sending in a pre-screen that consists of singing, dancing and acting unique to them. Usually, performers wait to hear back from the department to see if they request an in-person audition, the next step in getting accepted. If that were to happen, the student would travel and attend an audition at the college called an Unified. 

“This year, many schools have opted out of auditioning students and are choosing to either interview, look solely at pre screens or hold virtual callbacks,” Winkler said. “Unified’s are now Zoomified’s and that process will happen just in a very different way than most years.”

All in all, the pandemic created a completely different year filled with unpredictable outcomes and different expectations from many, but the theatre and dance program still look to continue performing and producing content to the best of their abilities. 

Now a returning member on the newspaper staff, Senior Jack Shechtman is the Opinion Section Editor for the print newsmagazine. Outside of writing for the Patriot Post, Jack has been a starter on the varsity lacrosse team since his freshman year, as well as an active fisherman. Jack is in a few clubs outside of the school and plans on going to college to study Business and Real Estate Development.

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