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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Dance departments show strength during pandemic

Director’s assistant for Movers Unlimited Krista Carson performs routine in front of Lake Arlington.

Dance students make difficult adjustment of going virtual

alyson oliver & lydia regalado
senior editor & campus editor

Resilience to resolve — themes of the NW and NE dance departments’ spring productions and qualities TCC dance students embody as the curtain rises on another challenging semester.

Whereas video was used as a tool to review rehearsals in the past, it now makes up entire performances.

“Life finds a way, art finds a way,” said Lacreacia Sanders, NW associate professor of dance and director of the Mosaic Dance Project.

Founded 17 years ago, the NW Mosaic Dance Project’s mission is to perform and produce works of art for TCC and the surrounding community.

“Dance on camera’s not new, but it’s not usually something that a whole semester is based on, it’s not usually something a whole production is based on,” Sanders said.

One can relate video to a stage production, Sanders said. 

During one rehearsal, as a melancholy song played through the speakers, they practiced pulling the audience into the performance by picking up their cameras and twirling with them. Their new, remote practice spaces blurred in a swirl behind them.

“It’s been a challenge, but it’s been a good challenge, and I think only coming out of this, it will make not only me a better dancer and choreographer, but my students I teach better dancers,” said Deardre Randolph, TWU student and Mosaic Dance Project guest choreographer.

Before COVID-19, the group visited high schools to teach classes, perform and talk to students about opportunities at TCC. Additionally, they would travel as far as New York to take classes and do performances.

It feels like all of that was taken away now, Sanders said. Even the small things can cause setbacks — kicking a piece of furniture at home during a rehearsal, for instance, creates frustration that the group can’t be in a studio.

Mosaic Dance Project guest choreographer Elisa De La Rosa said students choosing to turn their cameras on during dance rehearsals helped take back their power and celebrate the process.

“It says, yes, I just finished going through a full year of the pandemic, yes I just finished going through a snowstorm, yes I lost my job, yes I’m struggling right now, I have mental health issues, yes I don’t know if I can afford this or that, but I’m going to turn my camera on, and that says a lot about the students,” De La Rosa said.

Despite challenges, students have gone from a place of crushing disappointment to creating beautiful works of art using video, Sanders said. She hopes through the performance, the audience will see the students’ continued resiliency.

“If they feel some type of hope out of it, then we’ve done what we’re supposed to do as artists,” she said.

For dance students at NE Campus, a safe environment and cultivated culture of family inspires students to keep dancing. 

Head of the NE dance department Kihyoung Choi continues to persevere with her students through difficult times and says there is no judgment in the classroom.

“I know a lot of students are going through depression, anxiety and self-isolation. Even myself as a teacher, I feel the anxiety much more now.”

Despite the pandemic, a passion for dance has never left TCC students.

“We all have our body, we have our tools,” NE associate professor of dance Hyun Jung Chang said. “There’s a lot of emotions that everyone was processing through, but dance was still there.”

Since the traditional spring and fall concerts are unable to take place in the campus theater, the department is combining a series of clips students recorded of themselves dancing to hip hop, tap, modern, jazz and ballet pieces with creative edits.

“Our piece is symbolic of our fortitude and strength against the challenges of this time, as if we are dancing with and through the tides,” Dr. Choi said.

Last year, NE’s virtual performance was titled “Resolution” as they persevered through difficult times. This year, the title is “Resolve” and the performance will project unwavering determination through purposeful movement.

The Collegian file photo

Even as the semester draws to a close, students and staff inspire each other to keep dancing.

“I want to thank all of our NE dance program students, without them, we would not be able to make this show possible,” Choi said. “Every time I have a chance to thank them, I thank them. I say, ‘I’m really really thankful that you are here, and that we can dance together.’”

Resilience, the NW department’s production, will premiere April 30, and Resolve, the NE dance department’s virtual showcase, will premiere May 10

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