Senior dance students complete capstone despite social distancing

Dixie State University dance students create promotional shots at Cougar Cliffs for half of the senior capstone. Several senior projects have had to make adjustments due to COVID-19, but the online capstones have remained uninfluenced. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Stich.

Share This:

College dance classes may seem to be impossible to do online, but students and faculty at Dixie State University are determined to make it work.

The dance capstone occurs in two semesters: the first semester, students take a course in the fall centered around choreography, then in the spring, these students focus on creating self-promotional materials to help with their after-college goals.

Now, however, with the drastic effects that COVID-19 has had on employment and group settings, dance majors are uncertain of what their future holds.

Jaidyn Kae, a senior dance major from Pocatello, Idaho, said: “The performance world has come to a complete stop, which means my plans to audition, apply for teaching positions and more are no longer available. I have completely had to redirect my life.”

Kae said she was lucky enough to have participated in the DSU student dance concert before the pandemic hit, but that the transition to online has still been difficult.

“Honestly, I have been sort of angry with the situation,” Kae said. “Having my final dance concert, my last moments at Dixie and my graduation taken away has been devastating.”

Kira Brown, a senior dance major from Logan, agreed with Kae; she said the move online has produced more work and made her appreciate having structure.

Brown was able to perform her choreographed piece alongside seven other dances at the American College Dance Association Northwest Regional Conference at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington in the fall.

Elizabeth Stich, assistant professor of dance and capstone adviser, concurred that she was lucky about what was accomplished before COVID-19 changed everyone’s plans. Stich said most of the projects happening now are able to be completed online.

“I know it has been overwhelming for students to adjust to courses moving to online instruction; however, I feel that in senior capstone, students have been able to keep working toward achieving the course goals and their individual professional goals pretty seamlessly,” Stich said.

Stich and her class of seniors were even able to do a photo shoot, while maintaining social distancing rules, to help these students obtain promotional photos. Stich said this shined a little bit of brightness into the lives of students who had been working so hard.

“One of the happiest moments that we had as a class during [COVID-19] was being allowed to hold a sunset dance photo shoot with film department faculty Ben Braten at Cougar Cliffs,” Stich said.

Kae said even though COVID-19 did not provide her with her ideal learning environment, she feels equipped to handle all aspects of her career, such as rejection and unpredictable situations. These students prove that even when nothing seems to go right, a silver lining can be found.

“Through the help of my capstone, I have been able to see what difficulties I will face in the future and prepare myself for them; that is my favorite part,” Kae said. “My capstone has given me the tools to grow and be faced with difficult problems and how to always find a solution.”