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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Performing arts groups try out new platforms for rehearsals, events

Brooke Migdon | Hatchet Photographer
Several student performance groups showcased their talents at the Excellence in Student Life awards

Performing arts student organizations are trading in dance studios and stages for living rooms and bedrooms. 

A dozen student leaders in performing arts student organizations like GW receSs and Generic Theatre Company said they’ve adjusted their fall performances and rehearsals to Zoom, WebEx and TikTok or postponed them to the spring in light of the remote semester. Some said recruiting new talent is “difficult” because of time differences and schedule conflicts, prompting them to push auditions to the spring.  

Senior Abby Guen, the vice president of the a cappella group GW MotherFunkers, said all six GW a cappella groups are not holding auditions this semester because recorded auditions would not showcase someone’s vocal abilities and personality as well as in person. She said the organization is using social media more than in the past to maintain interest among prospects and promote their album “Nexus Iconoclash” on Spotify and Apple Music.

“We have been posting lots of fun and engaging things on our Instagram, @gwfunkers, like ‘guess the member’ games and have some other fun things in store for potential members in the future to get to know our personality as a group,” Guen said in an email. 

Senior Raagini Chandra, the business director for GW Pitches,
 said the a cappella group is creating a TikTok where members post clips of their favorite songs from past performances for interested members to duet and to connect prospects with current members. She said the group will connect with interested students through general body meetings and social events like happy hours and game nights.

“We’re going to leave the duet function on so whoever wants to feel like they want to try being in an a cappella group can just go ahead and do it with us,” Chandra said. “And they can engage with us that way. That will be a really great way for us to see who’s out there and see who could possibly become a pitch next year.”

Instead of using the Marvin Center, District House or residence halls to meet, student leaders said they’ve adapted to Zoom and WebEx and have experimented with new rehearsal settings. 

Junior Jasmine Kabira, the president and co-captain of GW Naach, said members of the Bollywood dance group traditionally learn one large routine they perform at the end of the semester in Kogan Plaza but are instead teaching a new dance each practice for fun. She said the group decided not to focus on one routine because of the difficulty for members to teach, memorize and polish dances through online practices.

“We unfortunately cannot perform at events this semester, but we hope that having online rehearsals every other week, exciting social media opportunities for members such as dance TikToks and virtual bonding events will help recreate the welcoming, family-like environment we have on campus,” Kabira said in an email.

Senior Moss Woodbury, the president of receSs, said the comedy group has had difficulty practicing improv “quite as well” online because students can’t bounce off of each other. He said the group has decreased their meetings from four times to twice a week and will instead work on writing sketches and holding workshops to walk students through sketch writing and improv for potential new members.

He said the virtual improv will be “definitely harder” to walk students through but said sketch writing over Zoom has worked well where students can share a document online and brainstorm altogether.

“We’re focusing on writing sketches rather than doing improv,” Woodbury said in an email. “We’re also really good friends with each other so it’s not difficult.”

Senior Nicole Wolber, the president of GW Balance, said the dance group has been using WebEx to hold classes on topics like strength, stretching and yoga, which require less space than choreography. She said the group has been holding classes throughout the summer, like a class fundraiser for Black Lives Matter, and will host virtual shows where students record their dances to create video performances.

“It’s really based on what people want to be doing right now and how comfortable they feel, but we’re still holding virtual shows this semester so there will be weekly rehearsals for everyone participating, and we have classes every week,” Wolber said. 

Juliette Ghaffari, one of the musical directors for GW Pitches, said their treasurer bought 14 microphones the organization shipped to members, a Zoom premium channel and the audio workstation program Logic with funds from the Student Association. She said instead of rehearsing in person, members will submit videos of them singing a part of a chosen song that the two directors will compile into one video to share on their social media.

“Hopefully by the end of the semester, we have a couple songs put out probably on our YouTube but also across various platforms and social media sites,” Ghaffari said.

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