Hamline News

Dance Ensemble Pivots to Video Performance

After the COVID-19 pandemic forced dancers to their homes, Hamline University Dance Ensemble Director Kaori Kenmotsu quickly worked to maintain the sense of community that the group had established in the first half of the semester.

“My goal was to bring people together to create and maintain the artistic integrity of the ensemble,” said Kenmotsu. 

The group began Zoom rehearsals to keep their bodies moving and built a hybrid brainstorming process over Google to develop a new way to perform.

Seniors Jackson Cobb, a digital media arts major and theater minor, and Helen Maclay, a theater major and business practice minor, joined the creative team as lead collaborators.

The main goal of their remote work was to reflect “community through isolation.” 

“Dancers can be nimble,” said Kenmotsu. “We have to be able to create and restructure how we express ideas.”

Instead of performing together onstage in front of a live audience at a regional dance conference or at their spring performance, ensemble members created movements in their separate spaces and filmed themselves for a virtual performance. As a result of the circumstances, the dancers developed new skills, including the use of video.

“The dancers had to be vulnerable using video,” said Maclay. “It’s a new medium out of their control.”

Cobb and his media designer partners Kyrsten Sauser and Ian Olson were responsible for knitting together separate performances by ensemble members into a seamless whole.

The resulting collaboration yielded a three-act dance film titled, “In Transition.” It is now available online.

Written by staff.