Dance Theatre’s Junior/Senior Dance Showcase goes virtual for spring 2021


Natasha McLeod

Senior Dance Theatre member Sarah Barakian performs her piece “An Honest Contemplation.”

Emma Bartlett, Arts and Culture Editor

It takes a team to put on a show – especially during a pandemic. Through dedication and the desire to be back onstage, Dance Theatre’s 14 performers prepared an hour-long showcase that live-streamed via Zoom on March 26.

Roger Williams University’s Associate Professor of Dance, Cathy Nicoli, planted the idea for the event by inquiring whether this was something the dancers would be interested in doing or not.

“A lot goes to Cathy Nicoli to inspire us to continue. This show was an option… She was the catalyst to push us to keep leading,” said senior Dance Theater member Ashley Marsden.

Marsden and the rest of the Dance Theatre group immediately jumped at the opportunity.

The showcase included 14 numbers, with 13 solos and one group dance. Dancers used the whole stage to display their talent of controlled and precise movements that were done with grace.

Several dancers used props such as a chair or a large wooden block. Some of the songs dancers performed to included “White-Odd Future,” “Octopus’s Garden” and “Harvest Moon,” with several numbers consisting of a compilation of songs.

While the Barn could have up to 13 audience members, Dance Theatre decided to keep the event virtual after seeing that COVID-19 cases were rising. Having a live audience would have been nice, but the Zoom webinar format had its benefits.

“I have family in a lot of places, some of which are not close,” said Dance Theater member Nicole St. Laurent.

St. Laurent commented that the livestream allowed more of her relatives to watch, including her sister and her family who live farther away. Zoom’s easy access for friends and relatives meant that more viewers could attend. Additionally, since most acts were solos, dancers would pop into the Barn’s vacant seats and watch friends, thus giving the feel of a live audience.

The night was filled with passionate dancers sharing their talents. When the show came to a close, all 14 performers came out from backstage and danced to Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”

The Zoom chat proceeded to blow up with virtual applause and congratulations for a job well done.

“Amazing dancers! Thank you so much RWU Dance Theatre for livestreaming the show!” commented mleslie, one of the audience members.

“It’s so nice to hear the excitement of a live show,” wrote an RWU professor.

While the showcase ended, the dancers were grateful for the unique opportunities that the pandemic gave them. The group expanded their video skills by taping dress rehearsals from different angles and will be working on creating a personalized video of each dancer’s performance.

“I have a visual arts minor, and this is an opportunity that I wouldn’t have with a normal show,” St. Laurent said.

Being behind the camera was also a humbling experience since dancers saw what it was like to be on the other side of things. For seniors who reminisced on their time performing in the Barn, the last opportunity to perform on the RWU stage in over a year has been meaningful.

“Everyone says this barn is magic and the space is magic. That is something that so many alumni come back and say, and it resonates so deeply with all of us,” said Dance Theater member Natasha McLeod.