The show must go on: How Lindenwood’s Dance Program is not letting a pandemic stop their ‘Confluence’ concert performances

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Daniel Bell-Nguyen, Reporter

Despite a pandemic, Lindenwood’s Dance Program is revamping its Fall Dance Concert, “Confluence,” to be streamed virtually this weekend and will feature 27 solo performances.

Confluence will be streaming live on LUTV free of charge for three different showings on Oct. 30 and 31 at 7 p.m. and on Nov. 1 at 2 p.m.

Tricia Zweier, an associate professor of dance and organizer of Confluence, said seasonal dance concerts are typically not titled, but this particular event signifies a different experience than the past with its composition of only solo performances for the first time and also being showcased in a COVID era.

Merriam-Webster defines the word confluence as: “the act or process of merging.”

“It’s the epitome of a confluence of events,” Zweier said. “I did kind of take that word literally. I was looking for a way to embrace the idea of two really important things coming together for one event.”

Zweier said Confluence became a collaborative opportunity for students to connect with professional choreographers around the world that were brought in virtually from places like San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Taiwan. 27 choreographers were each paired with a student performer for six weeks and rehearsed their performances entirely over Zoom, a video conferencing platform.

Student performer Hannah Taylor meeting with her choreographer, Dawn Karlovsky, over Zoom. (Tricia Zweier)

“The concert was inspired by our current situation with the inability to have in-person live concert dance performances,” Zweier said. “We were looking for an opportunity to give the students a chance to perform and connect with guest artists and guest choreographers even though we are in the middle of a pandemic.”

All of the performances will revolve around the themes of “growth” and “change,” which can be interpreted to the student performers’ and their choreographers’ discretion.

Zweier said she was initially uncertain about how the dance department would look this year. Although technical difficulties like audio delays and slow internet connections made it “really tricky” in the planning process of Confluence, Zweier said they made it work.

“The inability to design a perfect scenario: that’s live theater and that is one of the most beautiful things about what we did and what we were able to do,” Zweier said. “We’re all trying to create experiences for our students that are as close to what a normal career in the field would look like. We’re all trying to move forward together.”

Callie Bratsch, a student of fine arts in dance, will be performing her rendition of “If Soon Could Walk,” a contemporary routine choreographed by Bennett Cullen, a University of Iowa alum based out of Chicago. Bratsch said the rehearsal process was quite difficult, but she is grateful for this new challenge to express her creativity through this new format.

“Virtual rehearsals were quite difficult,” Bratsch said. “It’s really hard to learn from someone that you’ve never worked with through a screen. It was kind of hard to tell right from left sometimes and learn the different footwork [through Zoom].”

Bratsch said her choreographer has more ballet-style experience than what she is used to, but she overall appreciated the ability to collaborate with someone outside of Lindenwood.

“Even though the situation was kind of extraordinary, I would say having to work with outside choreographers was a fantastic opportunity,” Bratsch said. “In the professional world, I am going to have to do a lot of things I’m not comfortable with.

“It was a good step to work with someone who’s really good at opening my mind to new things and incorporating what I’m good at. I hope to let go of a little bit of perfectionism by doing different things out of my comfort zone.”

Student performer Alicia Love running through a lighting rehearsal for her performance of “Within Reach,” choreographed by Kathleen Hurley. (Tricia Zweier)

Even though students in the dance department are adjusting to this new virtual format, Zweier hopes their experience with Confluence will open the door for new networking opportunities in their career fields.

“There is an opportunity for our program to connect with a broader community of people, Zweier said. “The connections that our students made with people who are actively working in the field was really exciting for them and motivating. I think it was overall, probably the highlight of the fall semester so far.”

For more information, visit the Confluence Facebook page or the Lindenwood Dance Program’s Instagram page.