The following are additional questions and answers from CU Boulder Where You Are: CU Dance: The Bridge, the Break and Belonging, answered by Theatre & Dance Chair Erika Randall:

Have you seen a decrease in student enrollment in dance course at CU (given the Zoom-based courses)?

Not yet and hoping we won’t. Our classes for next semester have been running at about average enrollment. We will be limiting enrollment for some courses to allow for social distancing

What other tools, besides Zoom, are the creative spaced on campus using?

We are working outside, socially distancing. Making dance films and sharing choreography over video and then filming ourselves and editing together.

There will be pop-up events in outdoors spaces with social distancing (there will be an MFA show in a cemetery this fall).

Theatre students recorded radio plays and are looking to do filmed performances of The Laramie Project and She Kills Monsters in the fall.

What is the most difficult aspect of teaching dance and movement virtually? Are there any silver linings/advantages?

We have so much from dancing virtually. The challenges come in many packages: students (and faculty) not having adequate space, flooring, room for sound, and the difficulties of living with multiple folks and sharing space while trying to move without inhibition. We also miss the hands-on work of facilitating feedback and corrections—the use of touch is paramount to what we do.

We have found that we can connect with students from all over the world and bring in guest artists more easily, widening student access that way. Zoom classes, though no substitute for the real thing, have supported student health (mental and physical) during the pandemic, reminding them that they have bodies, that they can still sweat and breathe, and build community. 

We have also learned that with all of the undoing that COVID-19 has done, we can reengage our focus to thinking about movement differently. And we can think about how different dance styles not only live on Zoom, but how they engage with anti-racist work through somatic expression. Having to change our dance platforms has made us rethink EVERYTHING—and that is ALWAYS a silver or platinum lining.

In what ways has the Theatre & Dance Department been directly involved in the Black Lives Matter movement?

In dance, half of our faculty are Black and their work directly engages with the BLM movement: 

  • Helanius Wilkins has shown pieces at the Kennedy Center about the media and the police’s treatment of Black bodies
  • Rennie Harris created the first full length ballet for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre called Lazarus, about the violence against and triumphs of Black bodies
  • Larry Southall has recently participated in multiple online forums to discuss the BLM movement and how hip-hop engages these issues from a place of social dance
  • Donna Mejia has been offering an extended training through the Ombuds Office. She is also creating "Cultural Collision and Courageous Conversation" curriculum and training series for CIRES, CU Boulder Leadership Institute, APS, the Center for Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Color and Friends, CU Boulder Infrastructure and Logistics, the Registrar's Office, and the provost's task force on anti-racism
  • Nii Armah Sowah has been the keynote speaker at many public events and protests
  • Myself and other white colleagues have been doing the administrative work from “the inside,” increasing our recruitment/retention of BIPOC faculty, transforming curriculum, and raising scholarship dollars for BIPOC students.

The theatre program has been doing more work with Latinx populations (theatre for social change) and Asian theatre (through Cecilia Pang and Beth Osnes’ work) and is eager to build their efforts to be more intersectional and engage with the BLM movement more directly.