To Our Dance Majors, Grads, and your Families-
We want to say, first of all, that we so appreciate the decisions every family faces in measuring the value of students being on campus. You are weighing the enjoyment and importance of an “in-person” experience at the UA against the challenges that inevitably come with stepping away from the safety of one’s home environment. While we cannot predict the outcome of either choice – coming to campus or staying home and taking all classes remotely – we can assure you that we have given everyone’s health and safety a great deal of thought, and for this reason have found it necessary to put certain precautions in place. These measures are listed below, and as you read down the list, you will begin to get a sense of what “a day in the life of a dancer” will be on the UA campus.
In addition to what we can do to create a safe environment for classes in our facilities, we will expect that every dance major follow behaviors that sustain their health and safety outside of classes. Covid-19 is a contagious and virulent virus that is often underestimated. We will expect that every student do everything possible to reduce the risk of getting the virus, and to reduce the risk of transmission to others. Every person who enters our facilities or who interacts with other dance majors must protect themselves and others through social distancing, masking up, washing hands, and being vigilant in every way possible. We will require this of our dance population – 24/7. This means that while our dancers are not on campus, they will be expected to behave with complete respect for the seriousness of this pandemic. We are pledging, as described below, our efforts to keep our dancers as safe as possible. We will ask for a similar pledge in return from the very students we are here to serve.
Plans for BFA/MFA In-Person Technique Classes
- Dance students will need to be willing to be tested at the regular frequency once it is determined by the faculty and staff in consort with university officials.
- Strict enforcement for all faculty, staff and students of wearing a mask when inside School of Dance facilities, and at all times while students are dancing.
- Dance students will be expected to arrive just prior to the start time of each class, pre-dressed and ready to begin the class; dressing room spaces will not be provided; one single, compact bag per dancer permitted, containing only important personal belongings and dance-related accessories.
- Restrict number of dancers in each class corresponding with social-distancing guidelines for athletic training.
- Each dance major is restricted to a total of two in-person technique classes of their choice per week (each class meeting either 3X/week or 2X/week). In order to accomplish this we will be offering multiple sections of the technique classes we normally offer. These additional sections will be added to the schedule in the coming days, and each student will have an opportunity to work with their advisor to enroll in available sections. Our undergraduate advisors — Melissa Lowe and Elizabeth George-Fesch, will help new and continuing dance majors, and our graduate advisor, Tammy Dyke-Compton, will work with our graduate student population, to accomplish a distribution of placements into these classes that is as fair and equitable as possible. We will appreciate dancers’ flexibility in being willing to migrate to a different time for your in-person classes.
- Reduce length of class periods to allow for studio cleaning to be accomplished between classes.
- Arrange a slightly staggered start/end time of each class to allow for dancers’ safe and orderly transit between dance classes (Staggered times consist of only a 5 minute shift. No class will start before the time designated in the schedule, or go beyond the indicated end-time, so students can count on a class falling within the time frame stated in the schedule of classes).
- Visibly marked out, strategically safe, socially distanced “zones” for each dancer to work within for the duration of the class. These zones will be rectangles that are roughly 13’ deep by 15’ wide, creating the opportunity for a diagonal path that is approximately 20’.
- Ballet barres will be positioned along the perimeter of the rooms and will remain in place to avoid having to coordinate moving them.
- The instructor will teach exclusively from a pre-mapped out “corridor” at the front of the studio.
- Some dancers will be in the room with the instructor while others will be in a separate space with the guidance of a graduate teaching assistant and viewing the instructor via Zoom. Groups will rotate so that all dancers have a chance to be in the room with the primary instructor on a regular basis.
- The musician will be remote or positioned at a fixed point in the studio that is free of traffic.
- The protocol for students entering and exiting each studio setting will be clearly mapped out and enforced to maintain safe, social-distancing.
- Hand sanitizer stations will be placed outside every area in which classes are held.
Plans for Zoom/Online Technique Classes
Zoom/Online sections of technique classes will soon be added to the Schedule of Classes and once accomplished, dance advisors will work with each dancer individually for enrollment in the classes desired; these are graded classes that will add to a student’s total unit load for the semester and carry the same weight in the BFA/MFA curriculum as in-person classes and will follow a similar grading criteria with respect to attendance, participation, learning outcomes and goals for the class.
Enrolling in any Zoom/Online section of a technique class will be optimally accomplished if the dance student has a quiet space to focus, free of clutter and with minimal obstructions; accommodations for those dancing on flooring not specially designed for dance, having limited space within which to move, etc. will be made by the instructor on behalf of each student and within reason and on an individual basis.
Plans for Performance Experiences / DNC 343 Dance Ensemble
We hope to be able to provide performance experiences for you, and for our Tucson community. Our performance offerings will be different this year, as much remains uncertain, but we hope to present new work by faculty and students.
We are exploring the following performance formats:
- Outdoor drive-in performances: Outdoor performances offer the flexibility to have patrons remain in their vehicles, and for dancers and production crew members to be spaced out enough to ensure proper social distancing. These performances would take place on the UA Mall and/or under the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre patio. They will be shorter than an hour in duration so that an intermission is not needed.
- Filmed work for online audiences: New (socially distanced) work filmed on our stage and presented via an online platform. Works will be filmed at different times to allow for ample distancing, and then edited together to create a program for online viewers. Dance films, and incorporating commentary from choreographers and dancers, are also options within this modality.
COVID mitigation measures for all rehearsals and performances:
- Primarily solo work will be presented. Some exceptions may be made for dance majors already living together.
- The rehearsal and performance process will follow all COVID-19 mitigation strategies already laid out for dance majors and the campus community such as social distancing, wearing masks, wellness checks, etc.
- Access to studio space will require supervision.
Casting and Student Choreography Showings: Both of these processes will take place online this semester via short video submissions.
School of Dance COVID-19 Webpage
To access all School of Dance COVID-19 related announcements, such as this one, in one central place we have developed a webpage. We will continue to make updates and add FAQs as we finalize plans.
University of Arizona COVID-19 Information
For information about the University’s “Test, Trace, Treat” plan, Campus Life, Campus Health, UA Admissions deferment options, and more please visit the University of Arizona COVID-19 website: https://covid19.arizona.edu/
On behalf of all UA Dance Faculty and Staff, we look forward to supporting your growth as dancers this coming semester in the modality that is best for you. We trust that you will share this information with your families. We welcome your questions, and you can feel free to email any one of us.
Jory, Melissa, and Whitney