Brenau Dance goes digital for outreach, academics

Apr. 29, 2020
Michael Lowe

Even a global pandemic can’t stop Brenau from dancing — for a good cause, that is.

On April 16-18, Brenau University’s Delta Eta Pi dance honor society and Department of Dance held a virtual dance marathon to benefit the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, whose mission is to address hunger, health and quality of life by serving those in need throughout North Georgia.

The event, streamed via Instagram Live, featured dance classes in musical theatre, jazz, West African Dance and other genres taught by Brenau students, faculty and a guest artist.

“We are committed to community impact and advancement,” said Dance Department Chair and Professor Madia Cooper-Ashirifi. “During these challenging times, we recognize we are all impacted and we are all in this together.”

Cooper-Ashirifi said Delta Eta Pi volunteered last fall at Georgia Mountain Food Bank, packing and preparing meals for the community. And with food bank donations down in recent weeks, she wanted to continue Brenau’s commitment “by showing our support and uplifting spirits with the love of dance.”

“We are grateful for the diligent work the food bank is doing at the front lines to ensure people have food on their tables,” Cooper-Ashirifi said.

The food bank event was just one example of the ways the Dance Department turned to the internet and technology to express a traditional artform in a nontraditional way as classes moved from on-ground to online due to social distancing measures.

Cooper-Ashirifi finished out the semester by teaching classes from home via Zoom, and freshman dance majors showcased their final composition projects using YouTube videos.

“The videos are excellent, and I enjoyed watching all of them,” said Brenau Provost Jim Eck. “We are so thankful for Professor Cooper-Ashirifi and the Dance Department’s work with our students, especially during this challenging time.”

Cooper-Ashirifi said she is proud of her students for making the most of a less-than-ideal situation.

“They put so much hard work into everything this semester, and I am glad they are still able to share that work with the world,” she said.

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Brenau University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.