PHOTOS BY NATASHA O’NEILL / THE SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY
Disclaimer: All photos in this article were taken prior to COVID-19.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there have been adjustments that dance teams across universities have had to make.
But there is still good news to share.
While many universities have had to cancel their dance team for this semester, Laurier Brantford has managed to put things together and found a way to form a competing squad. The KAOS dance team will be happening this year.
“We had a lot of hesitation to return to the team since it was going to be so difficult. We were beyond happy to have 12 returning members who trusted us with the team this year and we are excited to get back,” said Selena Alaimo, co-captain of the KAOS dance team at Laurier Brantford.
Since COVID-19 can spread between people who are in close contact with each other, the sport of dance which relies on people being fairly close together, was bound to be an issue of concern.
Having individuals decide not to compete this year is understandable and expected due to everyone practicing social distancing and other safety precautions.
The team has had to adjust to a virtual lifestyle that comes with its problems and challenges.
“The sound lag has made it difficult for us to stay on time with each other and understand the counts that the choreographer is wanting,” said Alaimo.
With dance being a sport that is heavily surrounded by communication, repetition, and teamwork, having virtual meetings is a barrier that the dance team is currently working on.
The team is learning dances through Zoom and while this can be seen as a challenge now, team members are taking it as an opportunity to grow and make things work as they are.
“We are making adjustments as we go and even though there are difficulties, we are making it work,” said Miranda Schneck, member of the KAOS dance team at Laurier Brantford.
Photo by Natasha O’Neill / The Sputnik Photography
There are plenty of extra challenges placed on the sports team this year which is difficult to navigate through. Credit has to be given to the team’s determination and perseverance in working together and making things function to the best of their ability.
The atmosphere and dedication will be one of the keys to a successful season.
Although official competitions have not started yet, it is important to build the habits from now and have them set in stone to when things pick up through the year.
“I think the overall atmosphere is that we are tired and struggling but very happy to be there. Having to change to online schooling and dance has been hard on everyone, and even though we don’t have in-person meetings, we still do our best to connect and check-in with each other,” said Schneck.
Mental toughness has been a recurring theme for many students this year. Online school has been a continuous adjustment for everyone and having a sport on the side also, is not an easy thing to do.
Seeing how the dance team has made the effort to stay connected shows their high level of mental toughness and how strong of a connection they have built.
“This is my final year on the team so I’m happy that we can still dance in some capacity. I think what I want everyone to know is how loving and supporting the dance team has been. The dance team has been my second family and I am going to miss them like crazy,” said Schneck.
The dance culture has created its community, bringing people together through human movement.
Chemistry and communication help solidify relationships and establishes a level of trust that reaches a similar level to family. Producing this type of environment can be beneficial in many ways and in Laurier’s case, has made a loving and supporting family to be remembered.
Photo by Natasha O’Neill / The Sputnik Photography
Regarding the next steps of how competitions will be facilitated, there are naturally a lot of unanswered questions right now. Restrictions are changing constantly which are impacting teams from regions all over the country.
“Dancers should be preferably tested routinely and wear a surgical mask not cloth mask during close contact routines. When possible, dancers should preferably have distanced routines,” said Ana Diaz, director of care at Wyndham Manor in Oakville.
Not being able to be in close contact is an ongoing issue that the dance team will have to battle with. Health officials want to limit as many people being together as possible.
“Long periods together put dancers at risk, especially if they are touching hands. Hand hygiene is very important, and people have to make sure they are not touching their masks often,” said Diaz.
Understanding the dangers of COVID-19 and what needs to be watched out for closely, will help find a quicker solution for dance teams this year.
Although some teams are willing to compete, extra precautions are being made surrounding competitions and how to safely accommodate everyone.
Showcases will have a different setup this year that teams will be accustomed to and we are still waiting on confirmation of how things will be run.
“Competitions are super up in the air right now. Some competitions have suggested doing video submissions while others have offered to have one team in the venue at a time to compete with sanitization in between. We are still preparing as normal as we can over Zoom practices for potential competitions if they do get approved,” said Alaimo.
While waiting on the approval from the university, Laurier’s KAOS Dance team is continuing its rehearsals and arrangements. With the winter semester slowly approaching, more information is likely to be provided as time moves closer to the end of the current semester.