BYU Dance kicks off Winter Semester with free livestreamed performances

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A contemporary dancer wears a mask and performs in front of a camera in one of last semester’s pandemic-friendly dance livestreams. (Brittany Neal)

BYU’s dance department is starting its second semester of livestreamed performances to showcase how it is working within COVID-19 restrictions.

The Contemporary Dance Theatre will be the first group to perform this semester on Friday, Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. Different performances will be held each week at the same time, and viewers can follow this link to access the shows.

These weekly livestreams began last semester and gave BYU dancers and instructors a way to continue performing despite the global pandemic.

Cagen Tregeagle, a music dance theatre major and contemporary dancer at BYU, said students choreographed this Friday’s performance. “This year we got to do a lot of student choreography because of COVID,” he said. “It’s been so fun to work with all of the choreographers.”

BYU contemporary dance professor Adam Dyer helped write an original script for this week’s performance to go along with the dancing. Instructors and students will give context to the performances in small speaking parts throughout the livestream.

The dance livestreams have seen tremendous success since their start last semester. The fall shows reached 40 countries. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people watched each week, according to Benjamin Sanders, director of production and design.

“We’ve found great success,” Dyer said. “It’s given everyone in the dance department a purpose.”

Sanders was part of the team that came up with the idea of streaming performances online when the pandemic started. He said these livestreams gave students a way to fulfill their class requirement to dance for an audience while still following COVID-19 guidelines.

“If you’d have asked me a year or two ago about streaming and cameras, I would’ve said ‘I’m not interested,'” he said. “We’re all just kind of fishing blindly through this.”

A videographer films a contemporary performance for one of the BYU Dance livestreams last semester. (Brittany Neal)

The dance department allowed a limited audience of around 50 people last semester before switching to exclusively livestreams. Each performer, audience member and technician was checked for COVID-19 symptoms before shows to keep everyone safe, Sanders said.

Dyer said he believes the dance department will continue to adapt to an online format rather than going back to normal pre-pandemic life. “This is all research of what art is going to look like in the future.”

Sanders said he still hopes dancers can perform for live audiences again in the near future. “As soon as COVID’s done, give us a call and we’ll be back on the road to perform,” he said.

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