During the spring, the Leela dance team usually performs at Dance Fest. Performances and shows were all canceled when Lehigh became fully remote. (Courtesy of Jass Bains)

Students in performance groups left disappointed without spring events

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The switch to online classes had a devastating impact on students in performance-based organizations, who spent weeks practicing their crafts and rehearsing for shows that were canceled.

Without much warning, the ability for students to meet with their captains, instructors and fellow members was eliminated.

The news was especially hard for seniors to cope with, as this would have likely been their last semester to participate in Lehigh’s performing arts scene. Many clubs scrambled to find a way to carry on virtually and honor their seniors. 

“We were thinking of all the things we now couldn’t do as seniors, our last Holi, Formal, Dance Fest or anything like that,” said Jaspreet Bains, ‘20, the captain of Leela, an Indian fusion dance team on campus. “I’ve been captain for two years. I put in so much time and effort into Leela. Realizing that I would never be able to lead the team again, never got my last practice, never got the opportunity to give that final pep talk. I thought I still had that opportunity, but it was no longer there.”

Other clubs, such as Off the Record, an a capella group, shared a similar sentiment as their main spring concert is dedicated to sending off the senior members of the group. This concert honors them by giving them solo performances and features other members of the group speaking about their impact. 

For the new members of these groups, the news of the shutdown was especially hard to bear, considering all the hard work that was put in since the fall semester, learning the necessary skills in order to perform in the spring. 

“When we heard the news that we were going virtual, our GroupMe was blowing up with everyone saying how sad they were because there’s just no way for us to really continue what we do virtually,” said Lucy McGinty, ‘21, a member of Off the Record. “We’ve explored options, but we all have different mics, and we can’t really do it over the internet. We have plans to try to do our senior concert in the fall. We’re going to put a bunch of our music into Google Drive, and we’re going to have members pretty much teach themselves. We’re all trying to find ways to make it work.”

A few of the performing arts clubs have found a hedgeway through Zoom, the application chosen by many Lehigh professors to teach classes and keep students connected. Some clubs have found ways to virtually continue practicing and preparing for their performances. 

Leela is having each team member submit a video of the choreographed dance, which will then be stitched together by an executive club member and presented in place of Dance Fest, the main event of the spring for the club. 

Other clubs are hosting similar events to commemorate their club and the graduating members. Many clubs host weekly meetings, as they would during normal circumstances, which usually consist of keeping in touch with fellow club members, keeping spirits up in the club and planning ahead for future events. 

Some of the clubs will continue their traditions virtually, such as hosting bingo nights or giving out awards at the end of the year. 

However, it is difficult for performing arts-based clubs to continue business as usual considering the lack of proper equipment that each person may have in their home. 

“I’ve actually wanted to join a group since I was a freshman, but I was too scared,” said Sarah Oliver, ‘20, who joined Leela this year. “Fall semester was a ton of fun, and it was great to get on stage. And then this semester, I was really excited for our Dance Fest performance because I liked the different dances we were working on. It was really sad because I finally got a taste of what I’ve been waiting for since freshman year, and then it got taken away.”

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1 Comment

  1. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    “a devastating impact on students” I get it, the virus pandemic is a massive upheaval in the lives of all students at a special time of their lives, a time which cannot be retrieved. Some will lose more than others but all have lost some and some will lose even more. My condolences to you, I will pray for you. Marching 97 alumni come back to perform again surely that option can be open for many other groups. This extrordinary time may be the impetus for making future experiences for performance groups better. There are also ways to enhance your experience now: see Apr 10 video at Lehigh Women’s [email protected]

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