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To Connect as Dancers Without Touch: A look at how Eastern’s dancers will move through Coronavirus

Dance is known for its connection between dancers, moving together as one; however, in this pandemic, performers are without an essential element to the art: touch. As the virus continues to spread, artists are
attempting to resume their practices while keeping the integrity of their art. Masks and social distancing
make performing difficult, but not impossible. When Eastern University’s Dance Department
announced the continuation of in-person classes and the winter concert, many students wondered how it would be done.

Every December, Eastern’s Dance Department performs a two-day concert featuring student-choregraphed pieces. The concert will be moved to Nov. 14 due to the layout of this fall semester. The
details on the performance are yet to be determined; however, if the concert is held in-person, the Dance Department plans to follow all safety precautions for COVID-19.

Tyler Spencer, a first-year student, shares his views on the concert in the midst of the pandemic. “I believe that as long as everyone’s safe, we should be able to put on the concert as expected,” Spencer
says.

The concert will feature work from Marcus Tucker, the well-known hip hop dancer and choreographer. Tucker started choreographing a piece for students last spring to be performed at the 2020 spring concert, however, life was interrupted by the world-wide pandemic. Tucker has returned this semester to continue his inspiring work with Eastern students. The piece will incorporate different styles of hip hop ranging from locking to tutting.

The November concert will feature student-choreographed pieces as normal, however, choreographers will have to work hard to create a visual connection between their dancers while maintaining social distancing regulations. Touch is an important aspect to dance as it builds connections between dancers and conveys the meanings of the movement or dance as a whole. Choreographers will face challenges to create meaningful art with the limitations that the virus has placed on us all.

In classes, dancers are spread six feet apart and must keep their masks on at all times. “It’s a little intimidating coming into the department,” Spencer says. “Masks make it a little warmer, but I prefer it
this way because at least we are safe.” Despite the limits to connect through movement, most dancers
are just excited to be back in class and on stage. Laura Schoenhals, a junior dance major, explains
her excitement to be back in the studio. “It’s just good to see everyone again,” Schoenhals says.

The Dance Department, like the other art departments on campus, are working hard to keep their dancers safe while continuing their work. These times are difficult, but the department is hoping to shine some light into the dark by having dancers connect with one another through movement, even without touch.

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