School of Dance

Straps around their heads tighten with a toggle, and nose wires pinch in place. They move within 12-by-15-foot rectangular zones, their masks secured amid droplets of sweat.

Dancers like Hannah Weinmaster, a senior in the University of Arizona School of Dance, are used to dancing freely, side-by-side. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, campus dance studios bubbled with interaction as dancers glided close together, traversing in sync to choreography.

Dancer Hannah Weinmaster striking a pose in front of the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre. Images: Chris Richards

“It’s been extremely challenging … a journey to find a mask that works and is breathable,” Weinmaster says. “Still, I take whatever I can get. Dancers will do anything to be in a studio and be together — to do what we love to do.”

The dancers left for spring break in March and didn’t return to campus until the fall. After enjoying state-of-the-art facilities with sprung floors, they found themselves working at home on carpet, tile, and uneven surfaces to finish the spring semester on Zoom. 

“Dancers will do anything to be in a studio and be together — to do what we love to do.”
— Dancer Hannah Weinmaster

Faculty did their best to be supportive. “We realized in March we had to reinvent the wheel,” says Sam Watson, UArizona artist in residence and a faculty member since 1999.  

Living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms became dance studios. One student attended Zoom calls with a hot spot on a dry-docked boat. 

“One thing we’ve learned is to never take for granted the space to dance. Being in a dance studio is sacred space,” Watson says. 

Originally published in the Winter 2020 Arizona Alumni magazine.
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