Maltz Jupiter Theatre Conservatory's Performing Arts Classes Continue Virtually
When fulltime online learning begins for Palm Beach County students on Tuesday, local performing arts students will be ready.
That's because more than 200 students at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre Goldner Conservatory of Performing Arts have already spent the past week participating in dynamic live online dance, musical theater, acting and voice classes from their homes as the Conservatory quickly found a way to adapt to measures put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Paralleling the Theatre's efforts to bring a streaming version of its postponed musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying to ticketholders, the Conservatory's faculty leapt into high gear when faced with the new challenge of teaching arts classes online. Within 24 hours, they'd put together a plan and were training each other how to teach from their homes through several online platforms.
Through the cloud-based video conferencing platform Zoom, the Conservatory's faculty has continued rehearsals for its now-postponed spring musical The Music Man, as well as ballet classes, hip hop, acting, voice and more. Private voice and music lessons are now being conducted through common one-on-one platforms such as FaceTime, Facebook messenger and more.
While both faculty and students are participating from home, everyone still dresses the part in proper dance attire and shoes - though some improvisation is key since students may be using the back of a kitchen chair as their ballet barre, or may only have carpet instead of a floor to dance on. Students include those in grades K-12, as well as young adults enrolled in the Theatre's two-year Professional Training Program.
"We're honored and grateful that we have been able to continue to offer our students something that helps them feel normal during this uncertain time," said Julie Rowe, the Theatre's director of education. "In addition to the classes that our students love, this provides an opportunity for them to connect with their friends, talk about their day, complete dramaturgical projects using materials from home and more."
The Conservatory's faculty meets at the end of each day via Zoom for a faculty meeting to discuss their classes' progress and come up with creative solutions to tackle the virtual/personal divide. And the sky is the limit, with plans to hold virtual versions of many of the events the students know and love online - such as the Conservatory's popular Cabaret nights (an open-mic format in which students perform songs in front of their peers), voice recitals and more.
One of the benefits of the Conservatory's connection to the Theatre is that many of the Theatre's professional performers have reached out to offer their expertise for virtual master classes and seminars; upcoming events are being finalized and will be announced soon. New classes specifically for the virtual format are also in the works, such as screenwriting and web classes in which students will be able to create their own online film shorts at home.
"We're prepared to continue operating virtually as long as we need to," Rowe said. "As long as our students are homebound, we'll be there providing consistency, bringing our students together as a community and showing them new ways to create art."
The Florida Department of Education has ordered that all K-12 public and private school buildings in Florida remain closed through April 15 due to statewide concerns over the potential spread of COVID-19. Widespread closures also promoted the Theatre and Conservatory's buildings to be shut down as a safety precaution.
The Conservatory and Theatre are closely monitoring the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as local and state public health authorities, to safeguard the health and well-being of its guests, students and staff. New dates for the Conservatory's postponed May production of The Music Man will be announced as soon as possible.
The Conservatory's staff includes Brian Andrews, Frances Weissler, Kim Cozort, Kristine DiMartino, Alexa Evans, Sophia Gonzalez, Jay Johnson, Kenneth Kay, Shelley Keelor, Ricky Nahas, Kerry Rocks, Lea Roy and Suzanne Ankrum.
The Conservatory's faculty would like to thank its students and the community for their understanding and continued support through this unpredictable time. Staff members are available to answer questions during regular business hours. The best way to reach specific staff members is by email; a directory can be found on the Theatre's website at www.jupitertheatre.org