Beloved Arts Traditions Adjust Plans Due to COVID-19


© 2017 Andrew M. Daddio

Arts traditions including Dancefest, that draws crowds filling the Memorial each semester, must make drastic changes amid the pandemic regulations on campus.

Although Colgate has authorized students to come to campus for in-person instruction, events will be carried out differently this semester due to COVID-19. Events like orientation have already moved fully online, and performers and dance teams have been forced to change their plans in terms of preparation. As the situation changes daily and the campus anticipates moving through phases of reopening, it remains unclear whether some events will be permitted to take place during the semester.

Specific plans for traditional events like DanceFest, that generally draws crowds filling the Memorial Chapel, remain up in the air, but will be held in a virtual format this semester. And with the guidelines for student organizations like Groove Dance Troupe to practice still not finalized, dance groups are still waiting for more information to actually proceed on rehearsals, which will likely depend on how Colgate proceeds through its respective ‘Gates of reopening.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to get dance groups to practice with more safety protocols, but we are waiting for more information on that front,” Groove dance group captain senior Abby Rathman said.

The Living Writers series, a popular English department tradition, will go fully online for the rest of the year while celebrating its tenth anniversary. While past Living Writers readings could be virtually accessed through live stream, due to COVID-19, everyone who desires to join a reading will be joining online for this year. However, to completely shift towards virtual readings, Assistant Professor of English Jennifer Brice and Arts Coordinator Michelle Putz and Living Writers Coordinator Stephanie McClintick learned how to hire live captioners and sign language interpreters to increase accessibility and strategies to avoid instances of “Zoombombing.” 

“I’d say that we’re learning how to use online technology even better more smoothly, more inclusively than in the past. In past years, people who attended Living Writers readings virtually, via livestream, were second-class citizens compared to the people who were there in the auditorium, in person. This time around, everyone who attends will be on the same footing,” Brice said.

Many groups have turned to online technology to perform, as safety regulations must be met. Unable to rehearse in person, the a cappella concert for first-years will not be performed in the chapel like past years, but will be pre recorded with individual voices stitched together. Members of each a cappella group will be practicing their voice part independently and will record themselves for the concert video which will include the Swinging ’Gates, The Colgate 13, The Resolutions and The Dischords.

“I think this [independent practice] will encourage each of our members to adopt a greater sense of responsibility in learning and practicing their voice parts. I’m sure this involvement will continue when we are able to rehearse in person as well,” administrative leader of the Swinging ‘Gates senior Emma DePaola said. 

In a normal year, the Swinging ‘Gates would return to campus week before the concert to rehearse several pieces, but with special circumstances affecting their preparations, every a cappella group participating in the concert will sing only one song this year.

“While this presents new challenges…I am extremely glad that we are still able to ‘perform’ for the first years during their orientation,” DePaola said.