Expanded Online School: What Does It Mean for Performing Arts Students?

In December, York informed students that in-person learning would be postponed until January 23 due to the high threat of the pandemic. On January 10, York extended that deadline to January 31.

What impact has this extension had on performing arts students?

“Going back was definitely tough,” says Sophia Abbas, a fourth-year dance student and president of the Creative Arts Student Association at York. “Line dancing last year was quite a pain considering we didn’t have the proper space or suspended floors so a lot of us ended up getting injured last year and I wasn’t I’m not happy to come back to this. It’s the second day and I’ve already injured myself!

“There’s also something to be said for how much I pay for facilities I don’t use and hands-on physical training I don’t get,” adds Abbas. “The spaces we use are a big part of our education and we cannot work to our full capacity at home or receive the level of education we would get in a physical classroom. Instead, we pay the same price as if we were using those facilities without getting that level of education. »

Danielle AD Howard, a professor in the drama department, says they believe their students rise to the occasion as best they can in a time that requires great “adaptability and flexibility”.

“Students may also have struggled to connect with their peers in the online school due to the lack of physical hallways that inspire impromptu conversations with each other before and after class. Students using Zoom chat during my classes as part of an established community agreement has been a helpful way for students to engage with content and inspire productive conversations about the topic of the day, as well as the theater and performance in general.

Eric Armstrong, an associate professor in the theater department, says while they look forward to in-person classes, theater students have found some benefits in online learning this month.

“We did Voice and Speech for Acting Conservatory students in a remote setup last semester because loud voice is one of the riskiest things you can do, due to the impact of the aerosolized COVID-19 virus,” says Armstrong. “However, with the other acting classes being taught face-to-face, it had an impact on students who were commuting long distances. They actually had to come to the studio to take an online class with a mask on so they could get to their next face-to-face class with just a 10-minute break in between. Far from ideal.

“Having all of the theater conservatory classes online this month means these students are safer, they can take classes without masks (which is very important for articulation work in voice), and that affects all students equally. So in some ways it was an improvement over what we had in the fall,” Armstrong notes.

Abbas also explains that there are different online learning experiences that often depend on things like class.

“Some people dance down hallways on rugs or tiles, up stairs, in small living room spaces that bump into walls, chairs and tables. Meanwhile, others have giant basements or access to actual dance studios. Some have home studios and lots of gear they can use to improve their skills at home, and these students are often the ones who do better and get the most out of their education, simply because they or their family have more money,” says Abbas.