Madeline Schreifels, who has been teaching dance since the young age of 16, shares her passion for dance with her students. Moreover, before the pandemic hit, Schreifels was especially looking forward to the changes that were to occur with the dance team.
“Last year there was only one big team, but now there is a varsity and junior varsity team. Last spring, the team would have also been able to have their first dance concert if it had not been for school closure,” Schreifels said.
This concert would have displayed contemporary and jazz as that is what the dance team practices during the spring semester, after dancing hip hop during the fall. Moreover, because they did not get to perform, Schreifels struggled to provide the team with that unique experience.
“There is something very special about being on stage, and being under the lights. I’m getting chills talking about it,” Schreifels said. “It breaks my heart that they didn’t get that last year when they had been working so hard.”
In order to give the dancers that unique experience, Schreifels is planning to record two to three professional dance videos. She has already purchased a 4K camera, box lights, and some blackout curtains to transform the dance studio into a performance stage. The ones that are allowed to come on to campus will be the performers while the rest of the dancers will be the directors, editors and music collaborators.
“When I told them about it they got really excited…I think that is something that is going to reignite their excitement and passion, and give them something they are working towards,” Schreifels said.
She felt it was important to do this “passion project” due to the current circumstances impacting the team drastically. Nevertheless, the dancers have struggled to keep a positive attitude with transitioning to learning dance through a screen. Not being together physically not only negatively affected their stamina or energy when they danced, but also the way they learned.
“Your peripheral vision helps you to learn because you are seeing other people doing the movement with you versus looking at a screen and trying to copy what someone is doing over zoom with the music lagging with your video lagging… It becomes this very complicated thing,” Schreifels said.
Junior Alexis Doyle, who has been dancing for almost two years mentions she also has faced the great obstacle of learning the choreography over Zoom. Unfortunately, this was not the only obstacle the team had to face.
Challenges which Schreifels had to overcome included understanding how the camera, when teaching the class virtually, would appear. It appeared opposite on video- also known as the mirror effect. This was a tremendous problem because if the dancers didn’t learn the steps on the right side the team would no longer be synchronized. This meant that Schreifels had to teach and learn the dances on both sides of her body. However, a student’s recommendation led to the team’s new helpful invention.
Schreifels now wears a “weird rainbow glove” on one hand to help her students differentiate in between the right and left hand movements, to better learn the choreography.
Although this pandemic has forced the team to learn differently and at a slower pace, they still appreciate dancing and treasure their team more than ever.
“It’s the one class I have where everyone turns on their cameras because I feel like everyone is comfortable there,” junior Melissa Blass said. “It’s like another support system in your life and it keeps you going … We are very much like a family, we are always laughing.”
Blass has been especially enjoying being a part of the dance team. Like Blass, others on the dance team are grateful that they have the time to dance and to distance themselves from the stress that the majority of students are feeling right now.
“I think it’s important to keep the dance team through distance learning because I know for a fact that a lot of people are struggling right now due to this pandemic…But when I dance, it makes me forget about everything and it’s my passion and I’m sure many of the dancers feel that way too,” Doyle said.