With in-person classes resuming this semester and COVID-19 restrictions easing from what they were last school year, performance groups at ASU are now determined to make up for time lost during the 2020-21 school year.
While many dance and performance-based clubs at ASU needed to adjust to COVID-19 protocols with their meetings, members are eager to return to the studios and resume in-person events.
“I was really excited when I saw the turnout,” said Katrina Santos, a senior studying materials science and engineering, and president of AZNA Dance. “Everybody who came was really fun and willing to dance, and everybody had a good time, which was so nice to see again.”
Santos was not the only one excited by the turnout for AZNA's first in-person meeting in over a year, which was held Aug. 27.
“This was better than we anticipated,” said Kayla Ellexson, a senior studying nursing and one of the four dance coordinators of AZNA. “We struggled with the Zoom meetings since dance is something where you need the energy in the room and stuff. I don’t think we expected this good of a turnout.”
Video by Judah Brody
Santos said the club's executive board had everything prepared for the meeting, but the biggest difficulty in their planning was reserving a space in the SDFC because they did not know reservations had reopened this semester.
“We were trying to book the SDFC last semester but they just weren’t doing it,” Santos said. “That’s why we had to rent out the Z-Room dance studios last semester. The SDFC didn’t even tell us they were booking their dance rooms again for the fall.”
According to ASU and SDFC policy, masks are required in indoor spaces where social distancing is not possible. Santos said she made sure AZNA mentioned that policy in all of its social media posts that promoted the meeting.
During a typical school year, AZNA usually performs at International Night and Culture Night. Santos said the club understands the uncertainty of COVID-19 and will take on any performance opportunities that come up as the semester goes on.
“Depending on how the COVID situation looks like and whether or not these events actually happen, we have that experience of rehearsing somewhere else, doing a concept shoot and making a performance video," Santos said. "But you know, that’s not preferred because the energy isn’t the same. We always prefer performing in front of people.”
While AZNA enjoyed the success of their first in-person meeting, Fusion Dance Squad, another dance organization on campus, is gearing up for its first meeting on Sept. 9 and its team auditions on Sept. 11.
Tanner Smith, captain of Fusion Dance Squad and a senior studying psychology, said the club spent the last school year practicing twice a week over Zoom.
“Everything was very limited to virtual events, of course, which was hard,” Smith said. “We definitely did feel the impact of that on our attendance a bit just because it was hard for people to stay involved in things.”
However, Smith is optimistic about the club’s auditions and first in-person meeting next week.
“Before we decided to book a room at the SDFC, we sent out a survey to people just to make sure that people felt comfortable going back in person, and we had a resounding ‘yes please,'" Smith said.
According to Smith, Fusion Dance Squad is not worried about performances at the moment and is focusing on hosting meetings.
“We’re still working on figuring out performance opportunities, but we have two big events planned so far,” Smith said. “One will be sometime in October, which will be an anniversary event, and we also plan to hold an open class/big reunion type thing.”
Smith said he hopes the return to in-person meetings will put the focus back on the club’s dancing skill and technique.
“I am excited to focus on the strictness of dancing again because I feel like over Zoom, we had to be a bit more relaxed,” Smith said. “For me, I think it’ll be really nice to have some of that pressure back and really working on improving as dancers.”
Judah Brody contributed reporting for this article.
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