One Last Dance

COVID-19 sends the Grossmont Dance Department Zooming.


Photo Courtesy Stephen Harvey

Entrances & Exits 2020: faculty choreographed dance concert.

Terena Tarbor, Staff Writer

If only taking dance classes online, could give students the same feeling of excitement most get when playing Dance Dance Revolution.

With all Grossmont College classes shifting to a remote format, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the dance department is struggling to keep students. David Mullen, chair of the Dance Department at Grossmont College, fears that “the possibilities are not great” for the dance department if classes stay online and describe the experience as “weird and inconvenient.”

“I think that not having the rest of the class to kind of reference…makes it very different for a student to, you know, to learn the material by themselves; that’s my theory,” Mullen said during a zoom meeting. “I think that when you’re a beginning dancer, being in a room with other beginning dancers gives you a feeling of support,” Mullen added.

Jordan Shepard is taking beginning hip-hop with Dance instructor Melissa Adao at Grossmont and says he would only take a dance class online fall semester if he had to. Shepard prefers in-person classes because he enjoys the interaction and is able to get out of his house more.

“It’s still the same curriculum, but a little bit lonely,” Shepard said in a message.

At this time, it is impossible for professors to know that their students are home practicing the techniques and learning the movements. Before, it was as easy as standing to the side and watching the class, but unfortunately, students cannot submit a plié to Canvas. Mullen said, professors are moving into a more trust-based class and must assume that their students are doing what is asked. This is especially true for students who are still working and are unable to attend class Zoom meetings. To make it easier for those students, some professors record the sessions, and some have offered office hours for students to have the opportunity to work one-on-one with them.

It’s still the same curriculum, but a little bit lonely

— Jordan Shepard, Dance Student

With dance being online, not only does the way of learning change, but some professors must also change the way their students take the final. Many dance professors at Grossmont require their students to learn a sequence or choreography; then, on the day of the final, students are put into groups to perform what they have learned while the professor records. Some classes like Introduction to Ballet, even have a separate day for critiquing the recordings in class and discussing what can be improved.

Shepard hopes his final is mainly focused on the effort he’s put into being successful in his class, considering the circumstances.

“I hope my final is that I tried and use the dance terms I learned to better myself in the future,” Shepard said.

Mullen said he feels that it is unfortunate students and professors have to work in this environment and believe it is going to be challenging to fill up classes in the fall.

On top of the many challenges the dance department is facing, they have also had to cancel all scheduled concerts and curriculum required master classes. Mullen said some professors require students to take master classes as part of their grade, but due to them being canceled, professors had to assign alternative assignments.

Though it is still uncertain when in-person classes will reopen, Mullen believes there is a good side to everything and that this is a time for people to learn and grow. The dance department is even looking into alternative options and considering a virtual concert similar to the one that MiraCosta College previously held.

Mullen said though students want to meet new people and dance with their classmates who are learning along with them “we are doing the best we can with what we do.”

The dance department is planning for the best and worst-case scenario for the fall semester and hopes that this change will only be temporary.