Page 22 - FIS World June 2021
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The Show Must Go ONLINE! FIS Performing Arts rises to the challenge of teaching, learning and performing
 during the pandemic
 A Grade 8 student records his choir part at home.
For more than a year now, FIS Performing Arts teachers have scrambled to come up with
coronavirus-safe ways to teach their subjects. With restrictions on rehearsals and live performances, indoor space requirements and even school closures, many of the traditional, hands-on ways of teaching have been tossed out the window. “Performances have moved from the stage into the living room and my sofa and coffee table have become a recording studio,” says FISW’s Elementary School music teacher, Rosalind Klein. “But online learning has also given us some amazing new opportunities.”
Despite the many obstacles to teaching and learning during the pandemic, teachers and
students across the performing arts have come
up with creative approaches that have brought about unexpected results. Dance students have choreographed and filmed individual pieces from their homes, band students have connected with professional musicians over Zoom for personalized lessons, and teachers have used a wide variety of technology tools to keep students engaged. The forced changes have allowed students a new avenue in which to tell their own personal stories through dance, drama and music, and which likely would not have been possible in a normal school setting. Read on to learn some of the ways in which members of our performing arts community are keeping creativity alive.
As part of his work with Elementary School students, FIS Dance and Drama teacher Jez Gregg, created a video project earlier this year called Dance Force. In addition to original story lines and choreography where he plays the starring role, Mr. Gregg also collaborated with a friend who wrote original music for the series of short videos.“During the many stages of lockdown, we were desperate to find a way to connect with young people at home and get them moving. As a result, we created this fun series of dance/exercise videos that follow an adventure.”
Grade 12 International Baccalaureate Dance student, Emily Y., has adapted well to the changes in the
structure of her learning. “Space for dancing is limited at home, but with more focus on details, I am able to adjust and get used to the confinement.” Her solo dancing has strengthened over the past year as a result of no team dancing, but she adds, “I really do miss the face-to-face collaboration with my teachers and team mates.”
“The cornerstone of my subject is Ensemble,” says Upper School drama teacher, Daniel Sarstedt. “Collaboration and a shared sense of purpose is crucial.
But with students being in isolation, and with physical and vocal work being limited for those students on campus, the usual sense of shared purpose has been challenged. However, the students have been great at adapting. We have found new ways of collaborating through Zoom, the Comedy Show (part of the Dance Film and Theatre Festival) being a good example.”
Grade 6-8 drama teacher, Sarah Abrams has had similar experiences.“We wanted our Grade 8 students to begin to develop awareness and control of their bodies through collaborative explorations, which normally would require a lot of close contact. In order to keep safe distance, we had students work with 1.5 meter long bamboo sticks that they had to balance between each other. They explored space, shape, pace, and levels and dynamics of movement, all while keeping distance. This eventually led to them creating short pieces with original poems based on an ‘emotional’ journey, using metaphor and sensory descriptions. They created entirely unique pieces that wouldn't have been devised if it weren't for the boundaries that the pandemic had placed on our drama work.”
FISW band director Caprice Schupp says that one of the silver linings to emerge from the pandemic has been a new way of presenting concerts. She had previously never made a video with edits but quickly became an expert at splicing and dicing. FISW’s 2020 summer and winter band concerts were both presented online in conjunction with the rest of the school's musical groups in a way they could show the stories of each musician, rather than just the students playing music.
Like in Wiesbaden, Oberursel campus band director Mark Fields has had to move rehearsals outdoors when the weather allows and cancel live concerts. But his students record themselves at home as a way for him and his students to measure their progress.
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