October 29, 2020

Fall Dance ConcertWest Chester University Dance Department Presents a Virtual Fall Dance Concert on Thursday, November 5

West Chester University’s Department of Theatre & Dance presents a Fall Dance Concert featuring 11 works of ScreenDance. The concert will be presented virtually on Thursday, November 5, and will be available for viewing through November 30. The performance is free, but donations are encouraged and registration is required at  https://www.wcupatix.com/theatreanddance. All collected donations will support University Dance and future productions.  

The concert is directed by Associate Professor Liz Staruch who says, “Once we found our fall semester would be fully remote, we knew we needed to keep our students engaged, creating and performing. Since my scholarship off-campus includes ScreenDance, it made sense that I would direct this first virtual concert and use ScreenDance as the medium.”

In ScreenDance, the camera and dancers work in conjunction with one another, and the camera becomes a part of the choreography. It allows the viewer a more intimate relationship with the dancing body or moving subject than traditionally with a dancer on stage. There are cinematic techniques involved, and film festivals across the globe often showcase ScreenDance.

Staruch offered three workshops at the beginning of the semester to teach students about ScreenDance, explore dance films, and talk through the process of making work in the medium. About 20 students attended workshops and 12 of those stepped forward to create work for the upcoming concert.

Students are filming their ScreenDance pieces in parks, parking garages, their homes, and at other site-specific locations, including beaches. The choreographers are mostly behind the camera and have found some new freedoms, like the ability to edit. Most of the pieces are using music, but one is choreographed to spoken word, and another accompanied by ambient sounds.

Staruch spent time this summer in conversation with several dance organizations, such as Dance/USA, a national advocacy group for dance, to learn more about how COVID would affect dance classes and rehearsals. Based on this information, the WCU dance faculty agreed to COVID-specific safety rules – no more than four dancers in one group if filming on location, a mask-wearing mandate for indoor rehearsals or filming, maintaining social distance, and more.

According to Staruch, the adjustment to a fully remote season and a concert dedicated to ScreenDance is not a deficit, but a benefit. She says, “We may never have taken the time to teach ScreenDance if our season wasn’t being delivered remotely. Also, our students are learning valuable lessons in perseverance and resiliency. Though COVID-19 has affected many industries, the arts have found ways to continue to connect with audiences. We’ve had to adapt. There is a larger lesson there for our students.”


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