Yale dance groups return to in-person auditions after 1.5-year hiatus
As Yale’s social distancing guidelines allow for limited in-person auditions and rehearsals, dance groups and new performers comment on the year to come.
Courtesy of Grace Parmer
As some students return to campus for the first time in nearly 18 months, dance groups are welcoming new and returning students to their cohorts. Last week, groups began auditions in a hybrid format, with some held in person and others virtually.
Although the digital format allowed groups to stay connected during the pandemic, many dancers missed in-person aspects of dance.
“Ultimately co-presence and live, embodied transmission lie at the heart of dance,” Emily Coates, professional dancer and professor at the Geffen School of Drama, wrote to the News. “We’re back!”
When Yale placed restrictions on in-person programming in spring 2020, dance groups transitioned to digital platforms. For example, Yale Undergraduate Ballet Company, or YBC, continued technique classes over Zoom in the fall, and worked with around 20 professional ballet dancers in a semester-long master class in the spring.
“Last year, we had virtual auditions where people could submit videos of their dancing,” said Grace Parmer ’23, dancer and publicity chair for the YBC. “We’re super excited to be able to see everyone in person.”
Parmer said YBC is most excited about dancing together and bonding with returning and new dancers. Due to Yale’s COVID-19 restrictions, YBC will not hold a performance this fall, but members look forward to their spring performance.
Even though some groups — such as YBC — are not holding performances this semester, they conducted live tryouts while adhering to University COVID-19 guidelines by limiting the number of people in attendance.
According to Himnish Hunma ’22, co-president of Yale Danceworks, the company is preparing for in-person events while adhering to Yale’s guidelines. Yale Danceworks is a non-audition group and will host an info-session on Sept. 15 to showcase members’ original pieces.
Throughout the semester, the company plans to hold workshops on “foundational” skills and choreography with a showcase planned for the end of the semester that will be virtual or in-person depending on COVID-19 restrictions.
Katia George ’25 auditioned and was tapped for Rhythmic Blue, or RB, a group that dances in genres including hip-hop, tap, street jazz, contemporary African and more. George described RB as a “new challenge” in terms of genre, adding that she auditioned for RB to pursue her love for dance while meeting other dancers who share her passion for the art.
Kristen St Louis ’25 also grew up dancing and was largely drawn to Yale because of its robust arts community. St Louis was recently tapped for A Different Drum and is scheduled to audition for Taps, Yale’s tap dance group, later this week.
“I need dance to balance my life,” St Louis said, noting that staying balanced is one of her big goals for the school year.
Both St Louis and George said their auditions included portions where auditionees had to learn new choreography and then perform it in front of the team.
“It felt like we were already in the family which made it so easy to enjoy the process. The energy was off the charts which only propels you to dance better,” George said. “It’s a beautiful process to watch your friends and new dancers hit moves they were just learning minutes ago.”
The Yale Undergraduate Ballet Company will hold auditions this Saturday, Sept. 18.