Choreographing a socially-distanced semester


Dancing in a socially distanced world is challenging, but certainly not impossible.

Much like Theatre TCU, the TCU School for Classical & Contemporary Dance (SCCDance) has adapted plans for classes and performances this semester in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes include new opportunities for students to learn the art of screendance.

Screendance is an expressive art form in which choreography is created specifically for on-camera performance. This approach varies from filming a staged performance, which generally is captured from the vantage point of an audience member. Screendance allows for more choreographic flexibility and is more cinematic in nature.

Because in-person audiences are not allowed on campus for the time being, the SCCDance decided to incorporate screendance curriculum as part of creating a broadcast series of dances choreographed and directed by student, faculty and guest choreographers.

SCCDance students enrolled in the senior-level advanced choreography courses this fall will learn screendance performance and production, says Roma Flowers, associate professor of professional practice.

“Some key points of study include understanding framing — both the compositional, filmic framing [and] choreographic framing — and how those tools work to expand the thematic expression,” said Flowers. “[Students] will receive instruction in camera operation and post-production workflow, [like] editing.”

SCCDance students will benefit from the screendance curriculum, learning new technology and methods of collaboration.

“Choreography for screendance can and does eschew conventions [of typical staging],” said Flowers. “Additional visual elements, color shifts [and] textural enhancements can be included to further expression. Also, choreography for screendance offers the opportunity for an added collaborative element that exceeds that of the typically staged work.”

While the field of screendance is relatively new, Flowers and professor Nina Martin are among the professionals who have created screendance performances.

“The field of screendance is presently providing dance and video/film artists with ever-expanding opportunity to create innovative artistic works and to allow these works to be readily disseminated throughout the global dance and video/film communities,” said Flowers.

Some SCCDance screendance performances will be presented online for public audiences to enjoy. The SCCDance will offer all Fall 2020 performances via video on its YouTube page. Upcoming virtual performances will be listed on the SCCDance events page.