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Devon Fitchett, Performing Arts Department Head/Director of Dance

Most people see the new calendar year or the spring months as symbolic of a fresh start or some type of renewal. As an educator, I feel fortunate to have another opportunity to begin again each fall. The new school year affords me a chance to reflect on what has worked in my practice and tweak what hasn’t; to unlock new creative possibilities; to watch a new and unique Dana Hall community engage, learn, and grow together.

Our return to school last fall, in the midst of the pandemic, forced us to completely reimagine every aspect of our work in the Performing Arts. How would we sing in groups or play wind instruments? How could we teach and learn dance through a tiny computer screen or confined to small individual squares in the studio? How would we reach audiences? It was an intense and a pretty uncomfortable sense of renewal.

This fall, as we've returned to school as a whole community, and as we prepare to welcome families to campus in a couple of weeks, I'm exhilarated by the opportunity for a fresh start. Performing Arts faculty and students are polishing pieces for the Family Weekend Performing Arts Presentation. We are creating together in the dance studio and Bardwell, singing safely together in the gym, and working on instrumental pieces together in the Music School. After a year of the challenges of doing Performing Arts on Zoom, this is a blessing. As I collaborate with my colleagues on this project, we employ practices adopted last year out of necessity that will enhance this year's presentation, and we're excited to continue to find such opportunities to connect positive takeaways from pandemic learning with our tried and true Performing Arts practices.  

My appreciation and excitement — for the discomfort of being forced to reinvent our practices and processes and for the chance to use what I've learned from that experience to inform an even more balanced, innovative, fulfilling new normal in our Performing Arts program — swell. Knowing that we've pushed the boundaries of how to create, teach, and learn in the Performing Arts, we're empowered to explore endless possibilities whose existence we may never have even considered in the past.