Ball State's Department of Theatre and Dance prepares for opening of dance show "Intertextuality" amidst COVID-19

MUNCIE, Ind.(NewsLink) -- Confusion has been a common thread within many school departments right now as they try to figure out how to navigate this unusual semester, but for the Department of Theatre and Dance, most of their confusion was with how they are going to present their shows. 

“Intertextuality” is the first dance show to be back on campus since the shutdown, something dancer and Ball State senior Robbie Weatherington said is challenging due to all the new precautions.

“When we were not actually in the performative space, we were in KDS(Kilgore Dance Studio), which is the largest dance hall, but not all of us could be called at once and we all had to wear our masks and then there were like taped-out boxes on the floor… like six-feet by six-feet boxes  that we would have to stand in… The only time where we could all be called at the same time was when we were called for University Theater which is the actual performance space that we’re using this weekend… Masks were implemented into our costume pieces, which is nice, but we can’t use the dressing rooms downstairs because they’re too close… 

Weatherington said these particular precautions have also been physically rigorous. 

“It’s been different, but definitely a learning opportunity for all of us, especially the choreographers to modify the choreography to keep us safe and then the dancers to be able to keep our stamina up while wearing masks and dancing for long hours and having restrictive breathing…”

These precautions were put in place, of course, due to COVID-19, something Weatherington said changed not only his attitude, but also the attitudes of the people he’s friends with.

“I’m a very social person. I love going out with my friends… I’m a dancer and I hang out with other dancers and going out at night and dancing with my dance friends is one of my favorite things to do and I’m very competitive with my dancing as well… The attitudes that have changed is that the people that I know and love in my show, you know, if you ask them nine months ago what they were gonna do this weekend, all of them were going to be going to the same parties…”  

While the rehearsal process was challenging in general, it was especially hard for Weatherington who couldn’t attend rehearsals for two weeks.

“I actually had COVID two weeks ago, so the rehearsal process was a little different for me because we had four weeks to put the show up and I was in isolation for two of those weeks, the middle two fo those weeks, so that was a little rough. They were helpful in providing like Zoom links so I could watch the rehearsal process, but I was very symptomatic so I had to like… I was bedridden for a while so, like I couldn’t learn that choreography…”   

“Intertextuality” is a show about “the relationship between our bodies through dance, according to Weatherington, and features many dance styles.

“The show is set kind of in a futuristic planet with three different human type ethnic groups populating the land and the ethnic groups are separate, but, you know, when conflict rises, peace is what’s sought out most. The show kind of takes us on a journey of self acceptance and pride and empathy through the medium of dance while taking movement inspirations from styles like hip-hop and West African native styles… and it’s really high energy and there’s a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ on stage and we expect the audience to also have a lot of fun while watching it as well and walk away wanting to crave to dance.”

When asked about the precautions being put in place for the audience, Weatherington said they have mapped out the theater’s seats in order to spread people out.

“They’re providing very very limited seating. The aisle seats are open for every other row and then within the actual rows it’s kinda like a zig zag pattern. However, you can come and sit next to people if you live with them… just like three days ago, it wasn’t even gonna be in person. It was gonna be a livestream.”

And, when asked what to expect from the Department of Theatre and Dance for the rest of this year, Weatherington said that some of the shows are actually being postponed.

“All of the shows they were planning for next semester, they’re just putting to the fall of 2021 and hoping for the best...”

“Intertextuality” opens in the University Theater this Friday, Sept. 25 and runs until the 27. There will be shows at 7:30 p.m. on the 25 and 26, and at 2:30 p.m. on the 26 and 27.

If you’re interested in buying tickets, you can visit here.

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