Performance Groups Adapt to Pandemic Guidelines

Fordham+Pep+Band+members+practice+social+distancing+on+the+football+bleachers+while+rehearsing.+%28Courtesy+of+Fordham+Pep+Band%29

Fordham Pep Band members practice social distancing on the football bleachers while rehearsing. (Courtesy of Fordham Pep Band)

Kristen McNerney, Staff Writer

Fordham’s various performance groups have been tasked with developing creative ways to come together while also abiding by campus COVID-19 guidelines. Most of the groups have had some in-person components this semester while supplementing practices and events with Zoom meetings, prerecorded videos and social media.

Flava, the only hip-hop group on campus, normally puts on a planned flash mob in the cafeteria every year, marketed as dinner and a show. President Hannah Gammond, FCRH ’21, said instead of the cafeteria performance, they had an event at Coffey Field last Thursday, Sept. 17. Since all campus events have a capacity limit of 50 people, she said Flava offered four different time slots for people to attend. With a group of 13 performers, 37 attendees were able to come for each performance, and Gammond said she was thrilled they all sold out.

Gammond also said Flava has been lucky to have regular in-person rehearsals as a team by using the McGinley Ballroom regularly.

“It’s been really great to have that human aspect of interaction,” she said.

Everyone wears masks throughout the rehearsal, and Gammond checks everyone’s temperature upon coming in. Although she said she believes having her group together in a physical space is an important part of dance, Flava isn’t opposed to having Zoom rehearsals in the future for others at home who want to attend.

Another group who will be making the most of campus outdoor spaces this fall is the Theatrical Outreach Program (TOP).

President Kate Murphy, FCRH ’21, spoke about a performance for “Much Ado About Nothing” planned for the end of October outside Walsh Library. She said around 20 people will be able to attend two matinee performances in-person, in addition to a live stream of the show. She spoke about the unique challenges of wearing masks and having a limited audience.

“Seeing someone’s full facial reactions is such an important part of acting,” she said. “We’re kind of learning what the new normal for theater is.”

Some groups will utilize their traditional spaces for performing and also have to use online platforms to broadcast their shows. President of Mimes and Mummers Annika Fagerstrom, FCRH ’21, said shows will have prerecorded elements staged in Collins Auditorium in addition to hosting live Zoom performances.

Fagerstrom spoke about the extra time and diligence needed for planning rehearsals and performances.

“In order to successfully stage a show, we begin scheduling and working about 12 months in advance,” said Fagerstrom. “Not having event guidelines and space request forms or even concrete information about when the semester would start until days or weeks before events was a very difficult turnaround.”

Despite the challenges, Fagerstrom said she has been really pleased with the turnout for the semester and is excited to announce more events in addition to “Spring Awakening,” which will be held from Oct. 15-18.

Performing synchronously has been an essential part of Fordham Band and Orchestra’s rehearsals. President Chiara Giammatteo, FCRH ’21, said the pep band recently held their first in-personal rehearsal, out on the bleachers of Coffey Field, where everyone was spaced at least 12 feet apart on all sides. She said Fordham Pep Band is hoping to play at basketball games this year.

Giammatteo said she hopes the orchestra will be able to perform this semester. The first event would be a campus open house event or Parent’s Weekend, followed by theend of semester concert if possible, and hopefully even a performance video of some sort.

“There are definitely a lot of challenges for musicians, most of which come from the fact that collaboration is best in person,” she said.

Even for pep band rehearsals, she said, everyone is so far away from each other that sometimes there are delays and timing issues with the music.

For the Fordham b-Sides, one of the co-ed acapella groups on campus, members have stayed socially distant and worn masks during their rehearsals in the Keating 1st Auditorium.

“Masks do muffle sound quite a bit, which has been making it a bit difficult to hear each other,” said President Hayden Cresson, FCRH ’21.

The group has also utilized online components. Virtual auditions were composed of people submitting one-minute videos of themselves singing pop songs. Cresson said some members are not on campus this semester, so they’ve joined rehearsals on Zoom, but the sound lag makes it almost impossible to sing together virtually.

Nevertheless, performances will go on, and the b-Sides will be one of many groups performing annually on Keating Steps at this year’s annual USG event.

Another dance group at Fordham, Candela Latina, has held virtual meetings this semester. Prioritizing health and safety has been the most important thing for the group, said President Krisellie Acevedo, FCRH ’21. Also, getting her group together has been tough.

“It’s hard to gather everyone on campus since most of us are commuters and have different schedules,” Acevedo said.

Acevedo said she hopes Candela Latina can perform at the Commuting Students Association’s annual Thanks-Give-Away event, even if it is a live stream.

Fordham Experimental Theater (FET) has adapted to diverse ways of organizing, like many of the other groups. Vice President Emma Paolini, FCRH ’21, said each of FET’s four umbrella groups have found their own way of conducting meetings and practices.

She said the majority of club-wide events are virtual, including a Reality TV Show live performance, which was streamed over Zoom, and the Playwright’s Festival, which will be held entirely online later this semester. FET has planned programming for every weekend, which will be a mix of prerecorded sketches and in-person shows.

Paolini also spoke about not being able to perform in the Blackbox Theater as usual, and as a result having to develop alternative ways to organize.

“Having contingency plans is super important as we prioritize safety over anything else,” she said.

The Satin Dolls, Fordham’s all-female acapella group, made the most of their time in quarantine over the summer before returning to campus this fall. President Julia Brown, FCRH ’21, spoke about putting together videos of the group’s graduating seniors that showcased a solo from each one and utilizing GarageBand to put together clips of the various members singing. Brown said the group also held a Black Lives Matter fundraiser in which people requested a cover of a song of their choice.

“If our successful cover fundraiser and senior songs over the summer are any indication, I am confident that we can adapt to the changes and continue to learn and release music no matter what restrictions we have to deal with this year,” she said.

Brown said the Satin Dolls have not run into any problems yet with their socially distant rehearsals in a classroom in Keating Hall.