Adagio Dance Company Partners with SIMS to Film Physically-Distanced Performances

Two images of Sophie Brill-Weitz filming her dance and performing a high kickSound and Image Media Studios (SIMS) is helping performing arts students work together despite physically distancing.

Mark Dellelo, the Manager of SIMS, said he has always had a very strong relationship with several of the performing arts clubs at Brandeis, and that collaboration continues even though things look a little different this fall.

Sophie Brill Weitz ‘21, co-president of the Adagio Dance Company, said the group had to work quickly and creatively this semester to reimagine club activities that adhere to COVID-19 restrictions. She said Adagio normally holds a free, in-person performance at the end of each semester, which provides an opportunity to showcase the hard work, creativity, and talents of dancers and choreographers to friends, family, and the entire Brandeis community.

But this year is different. Unable to produce an in-person show or rehearse together due to safety regulations, Adagio instead arranged to hold weekly dance rehearsals over Zoom, with some asynchronous teaching and learning dances through videos. This allowed students to participate regardless of timezone, access to technology, or proximity to campus.

“As a performing arts club, it was important to us to create a way for dancers to have the chance to perform and share their work,” she said. “We decided we would create videos at the end of the semester to share our dances virtually.”

There are seven student choreographers who are each teaching their own dance to a group of students over the course of the semester. The dancers then film themselves performing it and each choreographer edits the footage together to make a cohesive dance video. Adagio will release all seven edited videos at the end of the semester in lieu of a live performance.

Dellelo hosted two workshops earlier this fall: the first focused on best practices for shooting the video, and the second focused on the editing phase. With students both on and off campus this semester, he said this project is one way SIMS is thinking creatively to help students stay connected.

“We always try to support student life, and particularly the student clubs—it’s part of our mission,” he said. “It’s more challenging this semester due to COVID, but it’s a kind of evolution of the support we would typically provide for the clubs. We’re helping them solve problems.”

Brill Weitz said the group learned how to enhance the dance movements by using multiple camera angles, edit the clips together seamlessly, and display multiple videos on the screen at the same time to recreate the group effect of an in-person performance.

“Working with SIMS opened our eyes to creative possibilities for creating the dance videos and provided us with the basic practical knowledge we need to put them together,”  she said. “We are so appreciative of Mark and SIMS for helping us adapt to our new, virtual environment this semester. Without the workshops, I don’t think our final product would be as strong. I’m really excited to see how all the videos turn out!”