Experiential learning classes have always been considered crucial to hold in person – it’s right there in the name. However, since the closure of Loyola Marymount University’s campus and the shelter in place measures established in California due to health concerns surrounding the coronavirus, all courses have been moved online, including movement and dance classes.
This has required quite a pivot in teaching methodologies and learning outcomes in LMU’s Dance Department. However, initial dismay amongst faculty quickly became an opportunity to tap into vast reserves of creativity and care within the department. Technique classes are held with synchronous zoom sessions, along with asynchronous dancing sessions where student record themselves and upload it to the teacher.
“Our students and faculty alike are dancing in their kitchens and living rooms, said Associate Professor and Chair of LMU Dance Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo. “I tell the students that dance is always about navigating space, even in a sprawling studio. A dancer must engage in a duet with a space. So when spaces are small, you don’t stop dancing, you just do a different dance.”
Supporting the emotional needs of students has become of tantamount importance as well, and LMU Dance has risen to this challenge in a unique and impressive way. This department is particularly close-knit, and faculty have been consistently committed to supporting students and ensuring that not one dance student falls through the cracks, despite the trying and unavoidable circumstances. Faculty meet via Zoom weekly to discuss strategies, including allowing time for conversation and reflection in large and small groups, both within the virtual classroom and in more personal settings.
“In this period, what we do may be reduced, but the how and why we do it are getting fuller and richer every day,” said LebBlanc Loo. “Creativity, resilience, and passion are coming to the fore.”
The video featured above includes students engaged in remote learning for Modern 2 and 5, and was produced by Instructor of Dance Taryn Vander Hoop. Music: Stayin’ Alive by the BeeGees