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The Dance Team Diaries: A.C. Area Voices Share Braving the New Normal II

PART 2 : First Weeks In- Stockton University’s Dance Team (To read PART 1 – "Our Neighbors to the North"- click here.) Last week we brought you the experience of dance team college students as they finished out their hectic school year and prepared for the new one. Now, with classes in full swing, The City Pulse is bringing you up to date on what the current situation looks like for our very own Stockton University. Enjoy meeting the talented dancers and follow the team at @stocktonuniveristydt!

As Stockton joins the many schools across the country in a part-virtual/part-in-person learning format, the Stockton University Dance Team (SUDT) will have no in-person opportunities for the time being, instead canceling any events, and moving rehearsals fully online. A tough adjustment for a team that has always kept busy with national and regional competitions, athletic and other school events, and one comprised of hard-working and dedicated dancers.

Photo courtesy of Alisa Iacovelli, at second left top row

So what does this COVID - times dance team look like today? Inevitable changes forced the group to adapt. As cautionary restrictions didn’t improve much, leaders of the team quickly had to adopt a can-do attitude for the 2020 - ‘21 season. Coaches Alisa Iacovelli and Erin Pasko met the challenge head on, making some big decisions on the team’s focus -- working to keep the dancers motivated and in-shape, but also choosing something feasible for the circumstance. For now, the plan is Zooming and the great return. “We’ve been using our time to further our technique and condition our bodies so that all of our dancers are ready to go when we’re allowed back into the studio”, says Alisa. To practice any routines, they have also found it helpful to create and post step-by-step tutorials of any choreography privately on YouTube. Each dancer then records themselves doing the movements and shares it to an album for the coaches to view.

Team member and second year captain Taylor Hurle, a Dance Performance and Business Management double major, described the changes in all their 'glory'. Like with our highlight last week, auditions for the SUDT were also held virtually, with videos submitted by hopefuls showcasing their best in jazz, hip-hop, and pom. Again, the environment caused limitations that Taylor had to fight through, just like other dancers auditioning across the country. “Trying to do turn combinations and hip-hop tricks in my living room was a challenge, but I made it work!” Resourceful as she was, there was still more than just the physical challenges. Taylor is now in her senior year, and feels the pain of being separated from her Stockton community. But, she is seeing the silver lining in this COVID experience and taking this opportunity to give her body a break. “It has been years…I’ve never wanted to take a break, even though deep down I knew my body needed one. COVID forced me to slow down and realize how beneficial a little time off could be. Now I feel recharged and ready to go!”

Taylor at second left bottom, photo by PJ Magro

For now, the status quo of reality will have to do with the eye on the prize. Taylor keeps dreaming big, hoping to dance professionally for the #NBA or #NFL in the future. She is also working towards taking on NYC’s business scene and owning her own dance studio. Grateful for good leadership, she feels inspired. With Alisa and Erin as "our leaders this year, the sky is the limit for our team”, she says.

A hopeful message for the coming year? Alisa’s take: “We have not yet made a decision regarding the spring; however, we are optimistic [for] a National’s competition!” In addition to the dance team world, big things for Alisa are to come. You can follow her at @alisaiacovelli_dance. The #Temple grad has her Master’s in Occupational Therapy, and is currently collaborating with the PA Ballet on an adaptive dance program for children/teens with Down Syndrome. She recently brought dance and OT together at the Variety Club Camp in Worcester, working with individuals with varying disabilities.

The City Pulse wishes all dancers and students a successful year, and encourages our readers to learn more about any future performances. You can keep up with Erin Pasko and Taylor Hurle at @erinpasko and @taylorhurle.

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