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UCDC Explores Pandemic Through the Lens of Dance and Film

The Ursinus College Dance Company is using dance and film to examine their lives and experiences during the global COVID-19 pandemic in unique and immersive solo performances that will be projected onto the side of the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center.

“We started out by considering our world right now and how we feel in it,” Associate Professor of Dance Jeanine McCain said. “We invited the dancers—as artists—to think about that and how we all feel like we’re in our own little boxes. Our lives and how we live have gotten smaller and in the virtual world, many of us only see each other in these digital boxes. I’m very proud of what we’ve done in coming together and using some of these limitations to our advantage.”

Each of the 16 student dancers choreographed their own solo performances using a carboard box as a metaphorical prop to “dance in and around,” McCain said. She said the solo pieces were “created as individual expressions by the dancers.”

“Each of the dancers genuinely explored their current experience and used the box to create a representation of that experience through dance,” she said. “The artistic content, mood, and movement choices vary from solo to solo, reflecting a true investigation of the dancer’s personal journey.”

McCain directed each student virtually over Zoom in the creation of solo dance pieces. Those pieces were then filmed on the Ursinus College campus by students in a video production class taught by Lynne Edwards, a professor of media and communication studies, and directed by Bailey Anderson, a visiting assistant professor of dance.

The 16 solo pieces will be edited together into one film to be projected on the side of the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center on Thursday, November 19, from sundown to 10 p.m. Only Ursinus faculty, staff, and students will be permitted to view the film on campus during that time while wearing masks and physically distancing. The film presentation is not open to the public.

On Friday, November 20, the film will premiere on the college’s LIVE! on Main website and members of the college and surrounding communities are invited to a live talk with the students on Saturday, November 21, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Zoom. To participate in the live talk, visit the LIVE! on Main website or click here.

Jacqlyn Henigan ’21 said the solo pieces are “very relevant to the time we’re living in now and the adjustments that we’ve had to make with the pandemic.”

“I really tried to focus on manipulating the box, but also incorporating my body as the box,” Henigan said. “It was super fun to come up with different ways to relate to the box using my body. I hope that viewers will also be able to relate to this piece—especially fellow students. I think we can all relate to the box that we live in now with the pandemic and all the craziness in the world.”

Edwards reached out to McCain for the video production collaboration creating an interdisciplinary effort that combined multimedia and the performing arts.

“I think this collaboration provided an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for my students to escape our television studio and to engage directly in really creative work with experienced dancers and other videographers,” she said. “Rather than interviewing the performers about their work for a studio newscast, my production students were able to be part of the performance, to share a vision in a venue that many have never worked in before. We were thrilled to do it and I am looking forward to more collaborations in the future.”