By Maia Almeida
Before the pandemic, there was never a time the Athletic Center was empty with sports games taking place in the gym, students working out in the weight room, and in the aerobics or multipurpose room – the Dance Team would meet.
This year, the Dance Team can be found in the Dwight Performing Arts Center (DPAC) with members spread out across the auditorium doing their best to rehearse.
The rooms in which the Dance Team once practiced are now being used by athletic trainers tending to student athletes.
In previous years, the Dance Team would use these two rooms from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday nights. This year, the team has only been able to use DPAC on Monday and Tuesday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The Dance Team hosts an annual show at the end of each semester, showcasing the choreography they have created. This semester, there are only eight dances, when normally there are around 25.
Because of the number of dances and COVID-19 precautions, there was no show for the spring and fall 2020 semesters. The Spring 2021 performance is pending approval by Student Involvement and Leadership Development (SILD).
President Haley Chase, a senior sociology major, said she has held her position as president for two years. In that time period, she should have choreographed four shows as president, but she has only staged one.
Because of COVID-19, the team is less than half the size it normally would be with only 25 members.
“On a positive note, I think because our team is smaller, we are a little bit more connected to one another, and we are able to just focus on dancing,” said Chase.
She said as one of the biggest organizations on campus, the team has a reputation to uphold.
Because most upperclassmen were not able to dance this year, the team is mostly first-year students who don’t know how the team is usually run, according to Chase.
Chase added Zoom is also an option for members if they do not feel comfortable coming to campus.
“As an organization that heavily relies on physical interaction between individuals with in-person meetings and events, it has been difficult to change the ways in which we go about things,” she said. “The safety regulations have challenged us to use our resources and find multiple solutions to our problems.
“For now, we plan to continue sharing our passion of dance with one another and find ways to showcase our creations with everyone else,” Chase added.
The executive board (eBoard) consists largely of sophomores, which means most of them have never been in a show.
Shea Heggs-Szabo, a sophomore nutrition major, said she currently serves as secretary, but next year she will be president.
Heggs-Szabo joined the Dance Team in Spring 2020, so she has never danced in a show or helped put one on as an eBoard member.
“I loved coming onto the dance team,” Heggs-Szabo said. “I loved how welcoming it was and how everyone was a group of friends.”
She added getting their space back for rehearsals will be a big part of how they prepare for shows in the future.
“Having a show at the end of the semester gives us something to work toward. It’s been a little unmotivating knowing we might not have a show and so we’re not working toward anything,” Heggs- Szabo added.
Publicist Carley Eiten, a junior fashion design and retailing major, said what she misses most is the Dance Team rooms – the aerobics and multipurpose room.
“They have the mirrors and the stereo system that makes it a lot easier for our team. Having mirrors is very important so you can see if you’re doing the moves correctly and if it looks like it’s supposed to,” Eiten said.
Treasurer Hannah Mace, a sophomore childhood and family studies major, said, “I miss the old space we had. It kind of sets the tone for everything and the atmosphere.
“But I love how we’ve been able to still create the same atmosphere here [in DPAC] and make it work despite the situation,” Mace added.
Vice President Chloe Chapdelaine, a sophomore biology major, said normally, newly elected eBoard members would shadow the current eBoard team to learn how the meetings are run.
Chapdelaine said the officers this year didn’t have the opportunity for the previous officers to train them because of the pandemic.
Hegg-Szabo said she is nervous going into next year because of the lack of leadership experience of the new officers. Despite that, she added, “I think it will be good to have a fresh set of eyes on everything.”
Current dance team member Yana Trubetskaya, a sophomore psychology major, will serve as dance team secretary next year.
“I miss how big the team used to be, being able to talk to everyone, and meeting new people in your dances. My first year, I did so many dances. Now, I don’t really have the time for that,” she said.
“I definitely miss performing,” she added. “I love being on stage and I love the backstage scene of everything like running in the stairway and changing and you’re out of breath, but you’re with your team and it just bonds you.
“I’m really excited for when we do get to have a showcase again,” she said.
Caroline Macdonald, a senior child and family studies major, said, “We’re all such a big sisterhood. I miss doing everything close together. I miss our shows so much.”
Alex Hebert, a sophomore psychology major, said, “I mostly miss the community. There were just a lot more people to interact with and the dances had a lot more people. But I am glad that we still get to have it in person this year.”
Hegg-Szabo said, “Everyone is going through a tremendous amount of changes this year, and I think it is more prominent than ever that dance teams are a great outlet and stress reliever for many members.
“With so many changes this year, I have learned how to be a better leader by adapting to new situations and gaining more problem-solving skills,” she added.
Chase said, “With continuous challenges over the past year, I have learned to raise other leaders to adapt to change and fast-paced problem-solving while staying true to our team’s values, resulting in stronger leadership skills myself.”
She added, “At the same time I’ve learned to live in the present, but be hopeful for the future, which is something I’ve tried to convey to the team in order to keep spirits up.”