Student Profiles: Dancing Through the Pandemic

Members of the K-Pop number perform at Arts and Culture Festival in 2019. Photo by Mr. Kyle Bishop

Dancers at WCI have always been able to express their ideas and tell stories through performances in talent shows, competitions, school assemblies, and more. But the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that they cannot perform. And rehearsals have moved to their homes.

A Video Compilation of Dancers at Home

WCI’s dancers try to make-do and find space to keep dancing at home. Footage compiled from dancers.

FJORD asked WCI dancers how the pandemic is affecting their dance lives and this is what they had to say:

Ally M. | Grade 10

Ally is a 16 year old grade 10 student in WCI with 12 years of dance experience. She has been a competitive dancer for 10 years and usually competes in about five competitions a year. She has been part of school dance competitions, school spirit assemblies, and even the Dance Canada Soloist Pageant.

The pandemic has affected Ally’s hours of practice. “Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak I would be dancing 15 hours a week and now that’s cut down to about 3 hours if i’m lucky,” she shared.

Her competitions have also been postponed or cancelled. “Last Monday, was supposed to be my competitive showcase and competitions are also coming up soon. I am yet to know if those will even occur, which is very sad. My team and I have worked really hard and it sucks to see that we are being held back by this pandemic”.

Dancer: Ally Mayo-Brenneman
Event: Bedance Competition, Guelph, May 2019
Photo by Expose Studios

Geetanjali S. | Grade 12

Geetanjali is a 17 year old grade 12 student in WCI with 12 years of dance experience in Indian Classical, six years in hiphop, and 10 years in Bollywood. She usually performs more than 30 times a year in local events, weddings, and festivals.

The pandemic has caused affected her drive to staying active and her motivation to keep practicing. She says, “Without dance classes, it’s hard to maintain a constant dance schedule and workout like before.” She is also concerned about keeping up her technique, losing stamina, and forgetting dances.

Even though Geetanjali thinks the space at home is a lot smaller for practicing, she still appreciates the free time: “This is a good time to practice main expression pieces as well as studying dance theory for my dance exams.”

Dancer: Geetanjali Shankar
Event: Photoshoot for Dance Graduation Recital (Arangetram), 2018
Photo by: Arushan Studio

Alaina C. | Grade 10

A grade 10 student in WCI with 13 years of dance experience, Alaina C has performed in concerts and competitions, and even for the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

Her biggest concern about the pandemic is about being able to advance her dance career. She says, “I complete exams every year and because of the pandemic I am unable to complete them.”

Although she still takes online Zoom dance classes at home, it’s different: “It’s much harder to get correction from teachers as well as have the space to do everything as full out as I can in a studio.”

Dancer: Alaina Chowen
Event: Year-end Dance Recital, Symphony Yuletide Showing
Photo by Calla Studios

Avery F. | Grade 12

Avery is a 16 year old grade 12 student at WCI. She has 12 years of dance experience and has competed at the Dance Canada Competition, and performed at 12 studio dance concerts. She has also attended the DACI dance conference.

Because of this pandemic, she is not able to dance with her friends in school. She says, “This month we had multiple competitions to compete in and unfortunately we aren’t able to showcase our dances that we’ve been working on for months.” As she is in grade 12, she thinks she probably will not get to perform these dances ever again, “it is upsetting to see all that hard work and practice go to waste.”

At the same time, there is a bit of an upside to the current situation: “Looking at dance specifically, you have a lot more time to try new techniques or new styles while being at home which can be beneficial.”

Dancers: Annabelle Duff & Avery Francq
Event: Dance Canada, 2019
Photo by: Ms. Jocelyn Urquhart

Yuni L. | Grade 10

Yuni is a 15 year old grade 10 student in WCI with nearly three years of dance experience. She is part of the school’s dance team, and she takes studio lessons. She has competed in Dance Canada, and performed for various school events, such as spirit assemblies and events, including Fill the Hill, Coffee house, winter open stage, recitals, and Arts and Culture Festival.

Yuni also teaches younger gym classes. Due to the pandemic, missing out on huge opportunities to grow and make memories have been a concern for her. She says, “Dance is one of the best parts of my life. I’m so sad to be missing out on time in the studio where I could be bettering my skill.”

Dancers: Sam Lewis & Yuni Lee
Event: Arts and Culture Festival
Photo by Mr. Kyle Bishop

Maddy E. | Grade 12

With 15 years of dance experience, performing in showcases, competitions, school dances, etc., Maddy is a wealth of dance knowledge. She is an 18 year old grade 12 student at WCI who has had opportunities to travel outside of Canada (such as Australia) to perform.

Due to the pandemic, there has been a lot of big changes to her daily dance routines. She is taking online classes rather than being able to go into the studio. She says, “I can no longer complete my year end graduation show, performances with the symphony, travelling dance experiences or even my ballet exam, all of which I have been working towards all year.”

She is also upset about missing out on all of the dance opportunities she gets through school such as Arts and Cultures Festival, competitions and spirit assemblies. She shares, “I have put a lot of my personal time into these projects so it’s definitely hard to have them taken away from you, although necessary for everyone’s health and safety.”

Dancers: Ally Sauseleja & Maddy Eagles
Event: Dance Canada, 2019
Photo by Maya Deutcheslander

Amrit Kaur M. | Grade 9

Amrit is a 14 year old grade 9 student in WCI who started cultural dancing since she was seven years old. She learned hiphop and contemporary later on. She’s been to cultural recitals and school dance performances.

Because of the pandemic, those dancing with studios aren’t able to practice with their team or attend competition. She says, “As for me, I don’t practice dance as often as I used to with all the stress due to the pandemic.” Before the quarantine, she used to choreograph with her partner often, “but now it is quite difficult without the motivation from my partner. Dancing in school was also different because there were more organized practices.”

Dancer: Amrit Kaur Mann
Event: Cultural Recital
Photo by Mrs. Daman Preet Kaur Mann

Sophie P. | Grade 11

Sophie is a 16 year old grade 11 student in WCI with 13 years of dance experience. She has been competing in competitions (such as the Terpsichore dance competition) since she was 10.

Her biggest concerns about the pandemic as a dancer is losing the social part of dancing. She says, “Being able to practice with my friends at least two times a week at school was a great way to keep connected.” She thinks that the pandemic can be beneficial to dancers in some ways, though: “The people who choose to be super productive, I would say this time would be very beneficial for them to continue practicing without the stress of other things in their lives, but it all comes down to how you use your time.”

Dancer: Sophie Pollard
Event: Terpsichore Dance Competition
Photo by Competition Photographer

Mackenzie H. | Grade 12

Mackenzie is figure skater (nine years of experience) and dancer (four years). She is a 17 year old grade 12 student at WCI who has been part of musicals and dance teams. She also has experiences choreographing for Arts and Culture Festival.

The pandemic has affected dancing for her because she can no longer compete with the number she and her fellow dancers worked on for months. She says, “It just sucks because it was my final year.” Despite being sad about not being able to see her group, she still thinks that, “we can practice at home and teach ourselves, which can deepen our love and understanding of dance.”

Dancers: Mackenzie Harper, Sarah Lott, Samantha Lewis, Emilie Richard, Natasha Fishman, Emily Weir, Yuni Lee, Hannah Griffith
Event: Arts and Culture Festival, WCI, 2019
Photo by Mr. Kyle Bishop

Sarah E. | Grade 11

Sarah is one of the new dancers in WCI’s dance team and she has performed ing more than 10 dance concerts. As a 16 year old grade 11 student in WCI with 4 years of dance experience, she thinks that these times can be really efficient and effective: “We have more time and we can learn new dances.” However, it can also be terrible, she goes on to say, “It’s pretty hard when you want to ask for help from other dance mates.”

Dancer: Sarah Elmugamar
Event: WCI Winter Open Stage, 2019
Photo by Kiavash Mohammadi

Emily W. | Grade 11

Emily is a 17 year old grade 11 student in WCI with 12 years of dance experience. She has performed in concerts, competitions, and showcases. Her concern regarding the pandemic is not being able to practice “full out” with the space that she has at home. According to her, practicing at home is a lot different than practicing in school or in studio because “the floors are a lot different and the space is really restricted.” She still thinks dancesrs “have a lot of time for them to be able to practice or one up [improve] with the choreography.”

Dancer: Emily Weir
Photo by:Yuni Lee

Kaleigh H. | Grade 9

Kaleigh is a 15 year old grade 9 student at WCI with seven years of dance experience. She is part of the school’s dance team and she’s also performed in school assemblies.

According to Kaleigh, the pandemic has made a huge impact on the amount of space that is available for dance practices. It is also difficult for her to get help or get the criticism she needs to improve her performance. However, she also thinks it can be beneficial by having more time for self-improvement. She says, “There’s no concern about ‘oh this person is better than me; I have to be just as good or even better’ or the pressure of having someone criticize you (although criticism can be a good thing).”

Dancer: Kaleigh Haipel
Photo by Kaleigh Haipel

Staying at home and not being able to dance with their friends or groups may cause negative effects on some dancers but that definitely won’t stop them from doing what they love.