by Maeve Corcoran ’24 (she/her)
I began dancing at the age of three like many other little girls I knew. Aside from the sparkly costumes and fluffy tutus, I genuinely adored the feeling of letting my body move freely and taking up space. As I aged, dance quickly became my passion, and I practiced a variety of styles — ballet/pointe, jazz, and lyrical — in several studios. I was fortunate enough to have dance as part of the curriculum at my school, allowing me to take classes with my peers and join after school clubs. I was in a youth ballet program at the Baltimore School for the Arts from the time I was five until I was 11, and then I moved to the studio I remained at until high school graduation. I knew that I wanted to foster my love of dance here at Davidson, especially as a freshman entering a completely new phase of life. Dance has always provided me with stability during uncertainty, and a pandemic was no exception. Even though the ensemble would be wildly different than it had ever been, I felt confident in the fact that a group of individuals who all shared the same desire to move, explore, create, and have fun would be the perfect place for me.
The audition process for the Gamut ensemble was a little unconventional due to COVID-19. Auditions were completely virtual and included submitting a video of a recent piece we’d danced in, along with videos of ourselves responding to an improvisational score (for example, 16 counts traveling on the floor or interpret the following: You look terrible, why?). Once we had all been admitted to Gamut, auditions were also held for individual choreographer’s pieces; the process was similarly virtual and included specific choreography or prompts to record based on each piece. We had to record wherever we had space — some of us confined to a tiny section of our dorm room while others rented out the Baker dance studios one at a time.
In a typical year, Gamut has a much more intense schedule of technique classes and rehearsals; however, this experience was simply not possible in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Alison Bory and the leaders of Gamut worked hard to provide us with access to interesting master classes with an array of amazing artists, whether on Zoom or socially distanced outside. I took a jazz class on Zoom in my Richardson Hall corridor and laughed as my hallmates came out of their rooms to watch. I strengthened my warrior pose outside under the setting sun with a Davidson alumna yoga instructor. That class, with each of our yoga mats six-feet apart on the Chambers lawn, was the first time I had actually been in-person with the other members of Gamut and was able to move together with them outside of the virtual realm.
It was especially important for me to join Gamut as a freshman at Davidson with COVID restrictions because it gave me a consistent community when most things on campus were still up in the air. I have something to look forward to every week and during that two hours of dancing, even on Zoom, life feels slightly normal again. Being able to let go of schoolwork and COVID anxiety for just a moment brings me the joy and relief that tend to slip away so easily during this unprecedented time. It takes me right back to that childhood sensation of letting my body move freely and taking up endless space — the pure bliss of dance. I am beyond thankful for my Gamut ensemble and the fact that I have found yet another amazing group on this campus that feels like home.
Maeve Corcoran is an intended Psychology major from Baltimore, Maryland and can be reached for comment at email@example.com.