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The Deerfield Arts Extravaganza: Art Department Adapts with Virtual Showcase
Isabella Casillas ’24 Staff Writer
November 22, 2020

This fall, COVID-19 precautions challenged the Deerfield Arts department with finding a way to still hold its cherished arts showcases amidst inevitable limitations.

In response to these restrictions, the Arts department created the Deerfield Arts Extravaganza: a compilation of fall work completed by the Visual and Performing Arts programs, including theater, music, studio art, and dance. The event was launched through a broad platform of viewing alternatives, with video options and viewing stations set up around campus. 

The theater department presented the radio play version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, offering both audio and visual options. Theatre Director Catriona Hynds, who directed the performance, said, “[The project] gave actors more time to focus on voice and text, while the technical team built a sound studio and worked on Foley, the creation of sound effects made from ordinary objects. It was a blast!”

The music department, led by Orchestra and Chamber Music Director Thomas Bergeron and Chorus Director Thomas Pousont, prepared a version of A Carnival of the Animals with selections by Camille Saint-Saëns​, Aaron Copland, and Franz Schubert. It featured piano soloists Forrest Gao ’23 and Ben Wolfson ’24, a string orchestra, and vocal soloists Christopher Gergis ’22 and Stephen Morris ’23. 

Mr. Bergeron described the pieces as ten short musical vignettes inspired by various animals culminating in their parade. Dr. Pousont added, “Mr. Bergeron and I found pieces to challenge and showcase the students’ talents and the animal theme seemed like a comforting one during these times of isolation.” 

The Dance Program prepared a site-specific dance video project. Describing her source of inspiration, Director of Dance Jennifer Whitcomb said, “It came about when I found I had only intro level kids in the academic program, so I started figuring out as many outdoor site specific things we could do. The piece is titled Emergence and is a story about students being stuck in zoom boxes and emerging out of them.” 

Deerfield brought an alumna, Sofia Taylor ’13 onto the project. She said her role involved “discussing with Ms. Whitcomb how to translate the dance projects into film, make each piece stand out, and portray the narrative.”

Taylor emphasized the collaborative effort embedded in this project since the end of October,  in addition to the smooth, efficient outcome achieved. The new perspective this film view offered, Taylor added, “would give the audience a unique viewing experience, different from that of the auditorium.” 

The largest challenge for Taylor was capturing “the breaking out of internet mode” while attempting to find a clean transition between the pre-recorded zoom dances to the filmed ones. Nevertheless, with the help of her editor and dance friend Jayvee, they were able to create a unique final product. 

Dancers Elizabeth Richards ’24 and Antonia Forero ’22 both expressed excitement for the upcoming showcase. Forero signified the importance of the event for dancers, saying, “It gives us an opportunity to perform and have something to work for. It’s also nice for the Deerfield community,” she said, “because it’s one of those traditions people value.” 

Richards said, “I am very excited and think [the event] is important because it allows the community to get a sense for what the arts are about, both performing and visual.” She continued, “ With the many different dance styles and art mediums, it will hopefully inspire the community to further explore the arts, finding something they’re passionate about.” She also enjoyed collaborating with multiple dance levels, finding it to be a motivational experience.

With the dedication of the students, excitement of members of the Visual and Performing Arts Departments, and the technical assistance of Taylor, this unique project has created special bonding performances for the Deerfield community to enjoy. Ms. Whitcomb said, “It’s turned out to be a wonderful extravaganza!”