Classy Cats rise to the challenges of socially-distanced dance, virtual workshops

Classy Cat Virtual Workshop hosted in Nichols Hall by Coach Heptig and the Classy Cat team. Zoom, Feb. 20, 2021. (Taylor Hashenberger | Collegian Media Group)

The arts have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit; venues are closed, performances are virtual and rehearsals are socially-distanced as much as possible. Despite the restrictions, the Kansas State Classy Cats dance team continued to work.

“Going into the season, we had a lot of unknowns,” Sara Heptig, head coach of the Classy Cats, said. “We were constantly adapting to the situation, so we ended up doing our entire summer via Zoom and so these girls rose to that challenge.”

Many of the performances and events were moved online.

“The mantra of our team was ‘go with the flow’ … that was very amplified this year,” Jordan May, Classy Cats member and sophomore in graphic design, said.

This year, the workshop consists of a morning and afternoon filled with technique, combinations and helpful hints for college dance team tryouts. It is online through Zoom and is $20 per participant, per workshop.

“We’ve been able to have people from across the country, coast to coast,” Heptig said. “It’s been neat because of the online opportunity, more people have been able to join us.”

Kia Warren, Classy Cats member and junior in elementary education, said the workshops can be difficult because there aren’t many good ways to give feedback and wearing a mask in the studio is difficult. However, the workshop can give future members more personal interactions with breakout rooms on Zoom.

The Classy Cats say they are getting better with each workshop and settling into the flow of things, but the lack of face-to-face interaction still comes with challenges.

“A downside of the virtual clinics … in my rookie year, I was reliant on meeting other rookies trying out and other Classy Cats at the time because it helped me to become more comfortable with my surroundings.” May said.

The Classy Cats team has had cancellations, changes in routines, and an overall new outlook on how lucky they feel just dancing at all.

“We have shown a lot of flexibility this year,” Heptig said.

Both May and Warren are grateful for having practices and performances of any kind, even if they are online. Other colleges have canceled their dance team’s entire season.

“We’re all just a huge family and we’re all sisters to each other on the team,” Warren said. “The experiences we’ve gone through, I don’t think I’d wanna go through with anybody else.”