Performing arts band together to beat COVID-19

Balancing+Act

Courtesy of Yearbook

BALANCING ACT -- Lauren Oh (12) performs on stage during a summer competition. Dancers, along with all of DM's performing artists, remained upbeat despite the loss of travel, final performances, and final memories because of COVID-19.

Brooke McKeever, Staff writer

When times get tough and our artistically inclined students have nowhere to go, they often turn towards the familiar basement stairs and walk down to their own world–a safe space to be who they are as individuals and part of a larger group. 

Now, schools are shuttered and those familiar basement stairs are no longer there to welcome them. The world seems flipped. Our own creative kids and teachers share the stories behind cancelled trips, lost performances, and new leadership challenges. 

‘It’s a beautiful thing’

The familiar wooden floors of the dance room have now been left vacant with no dancers in sight. Among the casualties of COVID-19 is the dance program, which has suffered not only the loss of their performances, but a trip to Italy that had been planned for around spring break. 

“I had been looking forward to [the trip] for almost two years,” said Lauren Oh (12), who was invited on the rather exclusive trip. “Going to Italy was going to be my last trip I could take with my best friends before we left high school.” 

People from all over the world in the dance community have come together and it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

— Lauren Oh

But Oh also had a very positive outlook on the seemingly grim situation.

“Throughout these difficult times, I’ve still continued dancing and choreographing at home. People from all over the world in the dance community have come together and it’s a beautiful thing to see.” 

‘It’s really upsetting’

 Only a few doors down the hall, the choir kids and Mrs. Jennifer Moore had been preparing a senior showcase along with a trip to Disneyland. 

“It’s really upsetting getting our concert and choir tour canceled after so many years,” said senior Autumn Duncan (12) about her time cut short in the choir program. “[I] was so excited to perform for the last time with so many of my friends”. 

Duncan called the timing of the order to shut schools “very difficult”–especially for senior performing arts students anticipating their final concerts and final performances.

“[We are] waiting all of high school for this exact moment,” Duncan said, “all the excitement builds up, and then gets destroyed”.

Singing the Blues
Alexa Bras
Autumn Duncan (12) sings alongside Kaitlyn Antioco (12) at the performing arts assembly. “I was so excited for a senior showcase with my best friends and it doesn’t feel real that at least right now it’s over with,” Duncan said. During the senior showcase, the final concert of the year, seniors choose their own songs and perform; the concert, along with all extracurriculars, was canceled by the district in response to COVID-19.

The sheltering in place order has been particularly challenging for the performing arts teachers.

“Teaching choir or any performing art online is difficult to say the least,” said choir director Jennifer Moore, affectionately known as “JMoore” by her students. “In choir, we truly need each other in order to practice our art.” 

“I suppose you could say that is true in life as well”.

Duncan and the other choir students recognize the challenges that face performing arts teachers–and what they are trying to do to make up for the seniors’ losses. 

“I know J Moore is trying her hardest to have us seniors do [a showcase] online,” Duncan said, “or getting together in the summer to be able to have that moment!”.

Prep for band season difficult

Just next door to the choir room is the band department, where preparation for the marching season looks a bit different from the norm. 

“It is a bit frustrating that everything has been moved online, [leadership] auditions in particular as well are typically done in person” said flute player Tiffany Young (11). 

The typical prep work involves refreshers on visual technique used for their shows. The other part of prep is the leadership audition process which involves evaluating leadership qualities, a typically in-person interview with the band’s staff, and either a conducting or playing component depending on the position. 

 The sudden shift to the online format was difficult. 

“At the same time, I am curious and excited to see how they’re going to differ from last year,” Young said of the season prep. “I’m also really looking forward to the season and can’t wait to be able to see everyone again”.

Banding Together
Brooke McKeever
Tiffany Young (11) poses with fellow band members during a fall football game. “It is a bit frustrating that everything has been moved online, auditions in particular as all are typically done in person. But at the same time I am curious and excited to see how they’re going to differ from last year. I’m also really looking forward to the season and can’t wait to be able to see everyone again,” Young said. Band, along with all performing arts, has been forced to use online resources to plan for the following year.

Improvise, adapt, overcome

“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns,” said renowned author Edward de Bono, “in order to look at things in a different way”. The fine arts of Desert Mountain High School are known for going above and beyond with their performances and sense of community. 

Having these classes online along with losing events has not made these classes any less, but only proved that they can adapt to as well as overcome any hurdles thrown their way. 

After all, the show must go on.