Dance team goes virtual for 2020 auditions

“The show must go on”

In response to COVID-19, the OPHS dance team has changed their auditions for next year’s team from in-person to virtual auditions.

“We didn’t really know what was going to happen at first, so we weren’t making any decisions too quickly,” sophomore dance team member Celeste Goldes wrote to the Talon.

Auditions were originally set for April 21-23. A similar schedule was set for the virtual auditions, which accepted submissions from April 20 to April 26 at midnight. The final performance for this year’s dance team was set to take place at the beginning of May, with summer conditioning for the 2020-21 team starting soon after.

“Because of [how soon auditions were set to take place], I would rather have the virtual auditions and set a roster now instead of waiting until everything is up and running again,” dance team coach Elizabeth Gentile wrote to the Talon.

Gentile has her sights set on performing next year and wants all the dancers to be prepared for anything.

“Essentially, I want to be proactive instead of reactive. As soon as we get word that we can practice or perform ‘in real life,’ we will be prepared for anything,” Gentile wrote.

The cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 school year not only affects the current dance team but next year’s, as well. Meetings at Medea Creek Middle School were canceled, making it hard for the dance team to reach incoming freshmen.

“I have been doing my best to market via social media and request to have the information posted on the OPHS and MCMS bulletins,” Gentile wrote.

Gentile hopes that a social media presence will bring more auditions despite the current circumstances.

“I am not too sure about how many people will be auditioning, but I have a good feeling there will be a great turnout because of all the endorsement on social media,” Goldes wrote.

Although dance auditions will now be done virtually, the audition will actually be quite similar to previous years’ auditions.

“In terms of the requirements of the virtual audition versus the in-person audition, they are pretty much the same! The dancers are to fill out a questionnaire, demonstrate technique, and perform both a jazz and hip hop combination,” Gentile wrote.

Despite similarities with the in-person audition and virtual audition, there are some key differences in how the dancers will be judged.

“In regards to the judging process, it is going to be a much different experience. It is safe to say that I prefer having an in-person audition. I love to observe the growth of the dancers from when they learn the dances on the first day to the final judging. During the audition process, I also miss out on getting a feel for their work ethic, effort, attitude, etc. Also, I can see how well they can handle the pressures of performing,” Gentile wrote.

Additionally, rising senior members of the team have the opportunity to try out to be the team captains. These auditions, which have already concluded, occurred via Zoom.

“The [traditional] audition consists of teaching an entire dance team practice. You are required to choreograph a combo to teach to the class,” junior team member Paige Gates wrote. “Each senior who wanted to audition to be captain was to make a combo, film yourself doing it and form a speech to read in front of the team. We did a zoom class where the coach presented each dancer’s video followed by their speech.”

Although these virtual tryouts — both normal and captain — are unprecedented, Gentile is excited for the auditions that will be coming her way.

“Auditions are a nerve-wracking thing, and this virtual process is uncharted territory for everyone involved! I am really looking forward to when the videos start coming in,” Gentile wrote.

There are positive sides to having the dance team and captain auditions online, according to Gates.

“I think that more people will be willing to try out because they may feel more comfortable in their own homes to learn the dances and send in their best work,” Gates wrote.

Despite the recent events, Coach Gentile and other dancers have held optimism for the future, and understand that this is just a slight step back for the future of their team.

“I think everyone is adjusting to this new normal and realizing that in some ways, the show must go on,” Gentile wrote.