The live events are more than just another performance for BYU’s dance students; they provide hope that dancing can continue even during a global pandemic
Saidi Cordon likes to dance with her face.
Cordon is a dancer in BYU’s Ballroom Dance Company. Normally when she’s performing, she focuses her energy on her facial expressions, because she believes that is where she really tells a story. This year, however, things have been a little bit different.
The Ballroom Dance Company performed live on September 4 as part of the BYU Dance LIVE Streaming events that are taking place every Friday during the fall 2020 semester. The performance included masks that restricted Cordon’s preferred mode of self-expression.
“I can’t tell a story with my face right now, so I’ve been trying different approaches. I think it’s good for me because as a dancer I need to explore new ways to use my body,” Cordon said. “That’s what we go to school for — to explore.”
2020 has involved a lot of exploration for BYU’s dancers and stage crew, and the Dance LIVE performances have been a big part of that.
Professor Adam Dyer, who hosts the Dance LIVE events, said he’s been impressed with how well the students have adapted to the new performance style.
“These dancers should be applauded for managing difficult dances with their masks on. It can be hard, but they’re doing it because it would be suffocating to not practice your art in a time of upheaval and turmoil in the world,” Dyer said.
According to Dyer, the Dance LIVE performances have been a learning opportunity and a morale boost for many of BYU’s dance majors, even those who are not on a dance team. At each performance, there is a small, socially distanced audience of dance students.
“They get to see a live performance. Audiences haven’t had that chance in six months,” Dyer said. “I really think we’re giving people access. We’re giving people hope, and we’re giving them purpose.”
Cordon expressed her gratitude for the audience she had, despite longing for a larger one.
“It’s important to have an audience because it really affects the way you dance. There’s an energy that I can’t explain: it’s just a sensation that makes you dance better. Dancing to an empty theater is kind of lame. You have to find some other inspiration,” Cordon said.
Regardless of the challenges, however, Cordon is glad to have the opportunity to dance. She believes her coaches have really fought for her right to dance and she wants to make the most of it.
“My first language is Spanish, and we have a saying that there’s nothing bad or negative in life that doesn’t bring something good in exchange. I always think about that. Our circumstances might be a little funky right now, and we’ve lost a lot of opportunities, but there is good that comes out of this negative circumstance,” Cordon said.