RANDOLPH, NJ-- With the high school’s annual live dance showcase canceled this year due to coronavirus concerns, dance teacher Michele Adriano and her dance students were working hard to find unique ways to spread their passion for dance to the Randolph community.
Adriano created a “Covid-19 Can’t Stop RHS Dance” video of her dance students to highlight their best moves and spread positivity to the members of the team. In the video, each student held up a sign with the words “Covid-19 Can’t Stop RHS Dance” and demonstrated their favorite moves.
Adriano said she was inspired to create the video after seeing COVID-19 dance project videos that some colleges had posted online. “I wanted to create the video not only to make people smile, but also to let my students know what a valuable asset they are to the Randolph community,” Adriano said.
Charlotte Gu, an RHS senior and president of the Dance Outreach Club, was gratified to see the dance community come together through this video. “Seeing all my peers unite through simple dance moves really showed me how strong our community is and how the arts and entertainment is especially important for society right now,” Gu said. “I hope people see how switching your perspective to one of an opportunity rather than a problem can really change your outlook and lift your spirits during this tough time.”
Gu and dance club vice-president Emily Peel were also working hard on their own dance-based projects during quarantine. Gu said that while coordinating club plans and activities was challenging during this time, she and Peel had managed to find a unique way to promote dancing in the preschool classes.
“We’ve asked members to create their own videos of themselves teaching yoga, stretching, cardio or rhythm-styled follow-along dance videos to help make a positive impact on our Randolph community during this unprecedented time,” Gu said. She and Peel asked student dancers to create five-minute-long warmup videos to help keep community children active and occupied during quarantine.
Adriano agreed that teaching dance online was a far cry from teaching in the high school dance studio, but she has also found creative ways to keep kids engaged in the dance program. “I have been utilizing [the website] Flipgrid, which is a great way for students to record and submit video assignments. We have actually finished most of the showcase dances online.”
Adriano said she had also made videos explaining the choreography to the students, with the help of the four senior RHS students in the Option II dance program: Natalie Beck, Claudia Treston, Olivia Howell, and Jenna Bachrach. As Adriano explained, these seniors only “attend” a half day of school, and for the rest of the day, they assist Adriano in teaching the beginner and intermediate dance classes.
“Mrs. Adriano has done an amazing job guiding us with ideas that benefits us as the peer teachers, and allows the dancers to stay engaged,” said Beck, who with her partner, Treston, had shadowed Adriano all year and helped her teach the Introduction to Dance classes. “The last few weeks Claudia and I have been sending choreography videos, stretching videos, and warm ups. We have also been reaching out to the dancers every week to just check in to get feedback on our jobs but to also see how they are doing,” she added. Beck said that she has enjoyed watching the improvements that her students make, even if it is over the Internet.
Gu spoke for many student dancers who, while they were missing their last showcase experiences, still hoped for the best. “I definitely hope we will have some sort of showcase,” Gu said. While this year’s showcase was canceled, Adriano said she still had some ideas up her sleeve that she hoped would help cheer up the seniors.
“I am going to miss everything about the RHS Dance department,” said Beck, who, like Gu, had been a part of the dance department since her freshman year at RHS and would leave lasting contributions to the department. “I have been so fortunate to have Mrs. Adriano as a teacher for the past four years and to have shadowed her this year; she has truly made this experience amazing and I’m so thankful,” Beck added.
For now, Adriano and the student dancers agreed they look forward to the future, when they can reprise their beloved live dance showcase, held annually at the end of May, and bring the community together, once again, through the performance art of dance.
Editor's Note: Emily Gibb is a student at RHS participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Randolph.