It takes many forms, depending on the class and instructor. One younger faculty member is hosting a 30-minute daily practice over Zoom; similar online dance resources have exploded in recent weeks. (If students keep a log of individual guided coursework, they’ll receive extra credit.) Others are asking their classes to watch more than participate, hammering home disciplinary vocabulary and promoting reflection. “We’re really emphasizing mental and emotional resiliency,” says Kaufmann. “And we want to encourage everyone to keep moving.”
Elsewhere in DFPA, theater instructor Ann Joseph Douglas was inspired by an interactive happy hour she joined with her friends in the early days of shelter-in-residence. The 10 “amazing women” in her Creative Dramatics class had been running their own theater program at George B. Swift Specialty School, an elementary school in neighboring Edgewater. When Chicago Public Schools went down, so too did drama club. Unless?
Online Drama Club started last week with a warm-up section, followed by a focusing session, a storytelling session, and a story creation section. Kids need only bring paper and crayons for writing, plus some space to move about. Fifty can join Zoom at any given time, though that might strain everyone’s patience. Loyola students will develop theatre games that are adaptable in a virtual setting and lead to self-expression. They’ll start with three classes and go from there. “Frankly, this could be really messy,” Joseph Douglas warns. “But it could also be something really great that could be done globally.”
Teaching from home requires spatial improvisation. Joseph Douglas had been using her bedroom as a home office, but will move some furniture around in her living room when classes pick back up. Dancers in Kaufmann’s program use their kitchen counters as ballet barres. (She doesn’t envy her friends in New York, attempting to pirouette in bandbox apartments.) Dybzinski chats from his guest room, with lovely brown and green floral wallpaper in the background, headphones jammed in both ears.
Hipsher, for her part, was able to take some furniture from school, along with her computer monitor. It’s all set up in her finished basement, which now doubles as her office. During her prep week, and with the trusty camera skills of her TAs and her husband, she shot 16 different Panopto videos in her kitchen, her front yard, and the woods near her house.
Last week, her lab met officially on Zoom. There was a short lecture. They all clicked play on her first video. Then the students busted open their soil kits. To see everyone engaged was uplifting, Hipsher says, if slightly bittersweet.
“I’m sure there will be bumps in the road,” she says, “because there are bumps in the road even when we do this stuff in the lab!”