A Conservatory freshman and their professor are trying to adjust to an online environment. The Conservatory largely depends on in-person instruction for dance, acting, and production.

By Gabrielle Hunter

Webster freshman Bianca Sanborn finds themself struggling to correct their poses on their own as they adapt to an online learning environment and the challenges presented by COVID-19. Their biggest challenge is self-discipline.

“It’s so weird to have to go from receiving your technical training from in-person to online, and it’s a lot more challenging,” Sanborn said. “Self-correcting, especially for something as technical as dance, is very difficult to figure out. You can never fully know whether or not you’re properly executing the combinations without the hands-on guidance.”

Sanborn does not describe themself as a tech-savvy person. This doesn’t help them in an online setting but they use a routine to keep themself going. In their spare time, they now write standup in order to cope. They also mourn the loss the seniors feel in being unable to perform their last time.

“It’s actually so disappointing, and I can’t even imagine how the seniors feel, ya know?” Sanborn said. “While we’re all missing out on key factors of our education while being in Conservatory – like the lack of hands-on, in-person training – the seniors are missing their last days at Webster, capstone projects, their graduation.”

Professors find themselves unable to teach dance physically and run through everything as a group. Isolation dampens their spirits but they manage.

“Moving online is a national necessity. It certainly helps if it keeps more people from getting sick. I don’t think it has made teaching classes easier or better but it’s certainly made us have to think hard to change our approach,” professor Dorothy Englis said.

They have moved everything from classes to assignments online using editing software, communications platforms and university resources as needed.

“Adjusting to this “new normal” of being on the computer for more than just email or electronically generated project work is also new and weird,” Englis said. “A lot of our work is physical, hands-on. Flattening it to an electronic experience is foreign.”

Some students did not have internet access or enough bandwidth to keep going and attending video classes, so the professors swapped to having students record themselves and send it in.

“It’s a mixed bag, with mixed results, expertise and satisfactions,” Englis said.