Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter

Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter Posted: 05 Oct 2020 12:00 AM PDT Even before the coronavirus pandemic propelled UNLV into remote learning in the spring, online courses at UNLV were prevalent.  "There's been a steady decrease in the number of students that have never taken an online course," said Elizabeth Barrie, the director of the Office of Online Education . She recently presented during The State of Online Education webinar event. It highlighted some of the initiatives and cross-campus partnerships that contribute to student achievement and shared how faculty prepared for online learning through the summer. She noted that 95% of students who graduated in spring 2020 with an undergraduate degree had taken at least one online course. And, compared to past years, there has been an increase in the number of students who have taken more than 30 credits, or two semesters, online. 

Studying ‘The Nutcracker,’ Students Listen, Touch, Move Like Snow - The New York Times

Studying ‘The Nutcracker,’ Students Listen, Touch, Move Like Snow - The New York Times

Studying ‘The Nutcracker,’ Students Listen, Touch, Move Like Snow - The New York Times

Posted: 06 Dec 2020 06:00 AM PST

On a November afternoon, seven young students twirled, hopped and lifted their chests to the sky, as Waltz of the Snowflakes from "The Nutcracker" played through their computer speakers. Gathered for a weekly Zoom class, they had arrived at a part of the lesson that one of their teachers, Jenny Seham, called "freestyle snow dancing": a moment to channel, through improvised movement, the wonder of Tchaikovsky's music and the freedom of swirling snow.

"You guys really captured the feel for me," Ms. Seham said when they had finished. "The important thing is that you're listening to the music."

Listening is a fundamental skill for anyone learning to dance, but especially so for Ms. Seham's students. As a longtime teaching artist with National Dance Institute, which brings dance education to New York City children, Ms. Seham has worked for over a decade with students who are blind and visually impaired, in partnership with the Filomen M. D'Agostino Greenberg (F.M.D.G.) Music School.

This year, for the first time, the music school — which serves students of all ages with vision loss — is offering a five-week "Nutcracker" appreciation course to bring to life the holiday classic in a multisensory way. Led by Ms. Seham and Dalia Sakas, the music school's director of music studies, the course provides background in the story, history and cultural context of "The Nutcracker" (presented a bit differently for children, teens and adults).

Each student also receives a package of "Nutcracker" artifacts: a pointe shoe, a candy cane, a long stretch of tulle (from which tutus are made), a story synopsis and glossary in large print or Braille, sheet music with sections of Tchaikovsky's score, and, of course, a nutcracker.

Perhaps most importantly, the class allows students to imagine the ballet through movement — to experience aspects of the work through their own bodies.

"They can't sit in the audience and see the snow, but they can be the snow," Ms. Seham said in a phone interview. "For me this class is about being dance."

While the course is new territory for the music school — a "beta tester" for teaching ballet appreciation, Ms. Sakas said — it also builds on existing programs. Founded in 1913 (and formerly part of the larger organization Lighthouse Guild), the school has a history of illuminating visual art through music. Since 1997, it has held an annual concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, pairing pieces from the museum's collection with "music that enhances the spirit of the artwork," Ms. Sakas said. In recent years, students have written poetry that informs the selection of music and art.

The "Nutcracker" course extends this idea to dance, opening up a fantastical world that students may know only by name. "Even though they can't see, they're aware that there is a 'Mona Lisa,' they're aware that these paintings exist," Ms. Sakas said, "so why shouldn't they be aware of dance as well?"

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the music school moved its classes online, a shift that has been limiting in some ways but also "allowed us to dream a little bit" and try new things, Ms. Sakas said. Before the pandemic, children and teens from the school met for weekly in-person classes with Ms. Seham and volunteer alumni from National Dance Institute, who served as movement partners, guiding and collaborating with the students through physical touch. (The program is one of many facilitated by the dance institute, which was founded by the New York City Ballet star Jacques d'Amboise in 1976 to make dance more widely accessible to children.)

"When we were able to meet in person, tactile teaching was a really important element," Ms. Seham said. "Obviously online we can't do that, so we're left with audio description" — describing the steps in clear, direct detail — "and finding that we can do it, it's just a little bit slower."

To acquaint students with the traditional music and story of "The Nutcracker," Ms. Sakas and Ms. Seham have been sharing excerpts from a 1993 video recording of the standard-bearer: George Balanchine's 1954 version for New York City Ballet, in which a young girl, Marie, journeys with the Nutcracker Prince to the Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy (the Land of Sweets).

But Ms. Seham said she also wants students to know about more contemporary takes on the classic — with varied characters, settings, music and styles of dance — and to envision their own. She has introduced them, for instance, to Donald Byrd's 1996 "Harlem Nutcracker," featuring jazz arrangements of Tchaikovsky by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Students are asked to consider: "What would your 'Nutcracker' be? What would your magical journey be?" she said. "And how would that encompass what's happening now and who you are?"

Those questions reflect Ms. Seham's general approach to teaching at the music school, where she often connects dance with themes of social justice. Many of her students, she said, are children of color who confront multiple forms of discrimination in their daily lives. "When we talk about systemic racism and lack of access and lack of inclusion, they're in the middle of it," she said. "And so I want through the arts for them to be able to express themselves and show themselves."

For the "Nutcracker" course, Ms. Seham has been teaching some basic ballet steps, while also leaving room for personal interpretation. "How you interpret it, how you feel the rise and fall of it, that's up to you," she told a group of students, ages 12 to 17, referring to the back-side-side footwork of a pas de bourrée, a structured preface to "freestyle snow." "You can't really mess up," she added.

In the absence of physical touch as a teaching tool, the items in the "Nutcracker" package offer a different kind of tactile experience. Daniel Gillen, 26, a pianist and longtime student at the music school, said the texture of the tulle surprised him. During the adult class, he danced with the wafting fabric wrapped around his waist. "I didn't think that it would be so porous," he said in a phone interview. "Because all the air gets through, it almost becomes lighter than air."

Opening the package, some students encountered a pointe shoe for the first time. (The shoes were collected by Daniel Ulbricht, a New York City Ballet principal, and are signed by members of the company who wore them.)

"Honestly, I'd never seen or heard of one," Matthew Herrera, 12, said by phone. "It's cool to see what real professionals wear."

Matthew, who is visually impaired and has taken Ms. Seham's classes for six years, said that as a musician who studies piano and voice, improvising is one of his strengths — and the same goes for dance. While dancing like snow, he said, he tried to think "about how it moves in the wind."

"I feel like everyone, once in a while at least, should kind of just let themselves go, especially through art, dance included," he said. "It's fun to do it. It's a beautiful thing."

40 plus virtual shows and events in the Bay Area - The Mercury News

Posted: 06 Dec 2020 05:00 AM PST

Just because you're stuck at home during the COVID-19 shutdown doesn't mean you can't explore the greater world. Here's a sampling of family-friendly shows, concerts, activities and more streaming over the next several weeks.


All-Star Storytime Series with Berkeley Symphony: 11 a.m. Fridays on Berkeley Public Library's Facebook page. Each week, a Bay Area celebrity will read a beloved children's book with musical accompaniment by members of the Berkeley Symphony. www.facebook.com/berkeleypubliclibrary/

BATS Improv Online Shows: This San Francisco-based improv group will stream free shows each week to bring a little improv magic into homes via Zoom. At 7:30 p.m. on the night of each show, click the link next to the show you want to see to connect to the BATS virtual theater. www.improv.org/online-shows/ 

Bay Area Children's Theatre Creativity Corner: This virtual "playborhood" offers kids stories that unfold via video, plus follow-up activities they can do on their own, inspired by the make-believe they've seen. Parents can submit their children's creations to BACT, which is planning to share examples online. https://bactheatre.org

Beat the Lock Escape Room: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Solve a virtual escape room with your friends via an audio/video call and live feed that lets you play by instructing a game master to search for clues. $25. www.beatthelock.com

Bringing BADM to You: Bay Area Discovery Museum offers a series of fun, engaging learning experiences to enjoy as a family. Explore three different themes — science and math, body and brain and talk and play — designed to develop skills for children to succeed in school and life. Within each theme, you'll find both step-by-step videos and activities with written-out instructions. https://bayareadiscoverymuseum.org/bringing-badm-to-you

Broadcast Platform, Marshstream: 7:30 p.m. nightly. Programming varies by night with offerings including short performances, book/writer discussions, singalongs, storytelling, game nights and more. Find more information at: www.themarsh.org.

Cal Performances at Home: Available through Dec. 30. Featuring Tessa Lark, violin and Andrew Armstrong, piano. $5-$60. https://bit.ly/2KXnyXq

Coastal Artists Virtual Pumpkin Festival: Now through Dec. 31. All coastal artists in San Mateo County, from Montara to Pescadero, will be featured for virtual sales. Categories include painters, photographers, jewelers, digital artists, potters, fiber arts/textiles, food and more. The main festival has been canceled due to COVID-19 closures. www.madeonthecoast.com 

Diablo Symphony Orchestra Virtual Concerts: First Thursday of each month. Featuring works that have been performed and recorded at Lesher Center for the Arts in past years. www.diablosymphony.org/

18 Reasons Cooking School: Check out a slate of new online classes. You may not have everything listed in the equipment and shopping list, but instructors will give you guidance on how to adapt their recipes to what you have access to. Learn new recipes and techniques. https://18reasons.org/

Festival Napa Valley's Remote Ensemble Project: This virtual performance of the "Va, Pensiero" chorus from Verdi's opera "Nabucco" features instrumentalists and singers from 26 states, eight countries and five continents. They represent two dozen orchestras, ensembles, opera companies and music conservatories, such as the Juilliard School, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Orchestra. The performance can be seen on Festival Napa Valley's YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/jHV9wLvNYxA

Full Moon Fridays — Live Cabaret Series: 8 p.m. Fridays. Featuring live cabaret style performances. https://www.facebook.com/42ndStreetMoon/

Funkmode Dance Studio Digital Workouts: Offering free dance videos, including breakdance, hip hop, youth dance party and more. Find the videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/FUNKMODE

Hillsdale High School Drama — "Almost, Maine": Now through Dec. 13. A romantic comedy with student actors playing 19 different characters. Free. Registration is required. www.hillsdaledrama.com 

Lamplighters Music Theatre Multimedia: Lamplighters brings their wit and musicality to the virtual stage with an inside look into the company and the rich history of Gilbert and Sullivan. The monthly assortment includes new interviews and video essays, alongside archival vignettes highlighting the best of the company's 68-year performance history. Free. lmt.lamplighters.org/patreon

Livermore Shakes Educates: A Shakespeare resource webpage for kids and parents, this is an extension of the company's "So Wise So Young" program for second, third and fourth graders. http://livermoreshakes.org/educates/

Magical Bridge Foundation Virtual Concerts and Sing-A-Longs: Enjoy free family-friendly, multigenerational and sensory-friendly shows at noon daily on the Magical Bridge Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pg/MagicalBridge/events/

Moraga Art Gallery Virtual Tour: View the Moraga Art Gallery exhibit and hear artists talk about their work and what motivates them. Visit the Lamorinda Arts Alliance website for the link to the virtual tour: https://laa4art.org

Mount Diablo Peace & Justice Center 2020 Art & Writing Challenge: Middle and high school students in Contra Costa County are invited to submit visual art (any medium), creative writing and essays on the topic of "Our Connected Planet." No fee. http://tinyurl.com/mdpjc-artandwriting2020 

"Dichterliebe ('A Poet's Love')" from Opera San Jose: Available for streaming. In addition to English supertitles, Opera San Jose has announced plans to offer its virtual performances with Spanish and Vietnamese translations. $15-$50. www.Operasj.org

Once on This Island: Now through Dec. 20. Sunnyvale Community Players presents the tale of Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl in search of her place in the world and ready to risk it all for love. $24.95. https://sunnyvaleplayers.org/

Opera San Jose — "Three Decembers": Now through Dec. 31. An American opera about family — the ones we are born into and those we create. $40-$50. www.operasj.org/

Palo Alto Players — Homebound Cabaret Series: Through Dec. 13. These at-home cabaret experiences are streamed live with special guests. "Holiday Family Sing Along." $20 to $50. https://paplayers.org/season/

Persian and Central Asian Dance Classes: Take daily classes on Zoom with teachers from all over the world including Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Xinxiang and more. $10 to $20. www.pomegranategardendance.com

Playful People Productions Game Nights: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 18. Featuring musical theater-themed trivia, dance-offs, bingo, musical chairs and more. $30. https://bit.ly/POPFall2020

Prescott Circus Theatre — The Show Goes On: 5 to 6 p.m. Dec. 17. This family-friendly online event features special guest appearances and performances, archival footage of the original Prescott Clown Troupe and the debut of 2020 Higher Ground stilt dance. Free. https://bit.ly/3mEi1Df

Saint Francis Foundation's Hob Nob Gala 'Unmaking the Future': 6 p.m. VIP virtual reception, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. main event, live broadcast, Dec. 12. This annual event emceed by Greg Quiroga, includes a VIP and sponsor pre-event cocktail reception and a program of inspiring guests, lively entertainment and a presentation of the 2020 Bella Farrow Award to Dr. Kathleen Jordan, M.D. $50 to $500 donation suggested. saintfrancisfoundation.org/event/hob-nob-2020-virtual-gala

SF Orchestra One Found Sound's Virtual Gala: 6 p.m. Dec. 11. Join the musicians of San Francisco's only conductorless chamber orchestra for their virtual gala. Celebrate One Found Sound, hear some incredible music and check out the silent auction. Orchestral works include Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson's Sinfonietta No. 1 for Strings and Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations. Free. https://bit.ly/38RCf8h

School of Rock Remote Lessons: School of Rock is a performance-based music school for ages 5 to adult.  Learn to play drums, guitar, keyboard, bass guitar and vocals by putting on seasonal rock shows. The school is offering a combination of one-on-one remote lessons and access to master classes on music theory, songwriting, instrument exploration and genre journeys. Cost varies. schoolofrock.com/sanramon

Second Saturday @ California Symphony: 7 p.m. solo and ensemble performances include "Season in Song" on Dec. 12 with vocalists Kelley O'Connor and Nicholas Phan. Free. Go to californiasymphony.org/tickets-events/calendar.

Shotgun Players — "The Light": 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 13, Virtual Ashby Stage. A rollercoaster ride of laughter, romance and despair. Nightly talk backs follow the performances. Pay what you can, starting at $8. https://shotgunplayers.org/online/article/the-light

Smuin's Virtual Classes: Dancers of all levels participate in Zoom-based drop-in lessons covering styles from ballet to contemporary, to hip-hop. All classes are "pay what you can". https://bit.ly/smuinclasses

Square One Yoga: Stay fit and grounded practicing live, interactive yoga. Check out the schedule of classes available at bayareane.ws/2yfH3oc.

The Escape Game Remote Adventures Virtual Escape Rooms: Your team will communicate with each other and a host at The Escape Game using Zoom. $30 per player. https://theescapegame.com/remote-adventures/

Virtual Author Discussion with Obi Kaufmann: 5 to 6 p.m. Dec. 9. Author, artist and activist Kaufmann will present his latest book, "The Forests of California," which guides readers through the Golden State's forested lands and a vision of nature in the 21st century. Free. https://bit.ly/2VyiomL

Voices of Music 2020-21 Online Season: 11 a.m. Sundays now through March 7. A series of talks and interviews with internationally acclaimed performers. $15 to $120. https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=vom


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