Displaying items by tag: Natalie Desch

Hello to my University of Utah friends out there in the world!

I hope this finds you feeling well and safe right now, wherever you may be. I was approached to write a little ditty about my experiences as a faculty member since our communities and our individual lives have all been uprooted and re-shaped by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Though I’ve never written a blog post, I felt inspired to share a bit of my perspective, especially since so many people have been so supportive through the various challenges we’ve all faced. 

To give a little context about me––I’m actually in my first year as a faculty member at the U – and what a year! After spending twenty years as a performing artist and educator in NYC, I earned my master’s degree from the University of Washington in 2014, and then after moving to SLC and working for several years, I was fortunate to join forces with the wonderful folks at the School of Dance at the U.

"But most importantly it has also reinforced some of the fundamental values of dance that nearly all of my students have agreed upon––that humanity needs energetic contact, it needs to act and to move, and that we can take steps to grow and evolve in ways we didn’t think were possible." 

This semester, I have been facilitating a variety of courses in the Modern Program, which currently range from a creatively-based composition course with sophomores, a ballet course with juniors, a modern course with seniors, and finally a teaching methods course with graduate students. I have loved getting to know the amazing faculty and staff as this year has progressed, and the students I’ve worked with, have time and again, impressed, inspired and delighted me. It’s been a truly fantastic year for me. 

The way this pandemic emerged…not with a traumatic, one-day event, but as a slow, steady build of its scope, threw me for a bit of a loop. I think we were all on the verge of beginning our spring breaks, when I really started to comprehend the serious potential of it all. And then of course, as the weeks of mid-and-late March would unfold, it became clear that everything would change. Initially, I remember being very freaked out at the news that we’d be going to online learning. As someone who is passionate about dance and its fundamental values of energy and movement of the body through real time and real space, the thought of having to enter a liminal, third space was daunting. There were so many questions that came up, but there wasn’t much choice that we had to move forward together and make the best of the situation. 

And I’m happy to report that from the first Zoom class I hosted on March 19, things HAVE moved forward! It has been great to have a platform which has for the most part, enabled our class community to come together, not only to practice dance in a new format, asking new things of all of us to make that happen. But most importantly it has also reinforced some of the fundamental values of dance that nearly all of my students have agreed upon––that humanity needs energetic contact, it needs to act and to move, and that we can take steps to grow and evolve in ways we didn’t think were possible. 

What I have loved most about my online conversations with my students is that we want to share and empathize with one another. There has been a very vulnerable and honest tone in the meetings I’ve been privileged to witness. I appreciate the passion I hear in their voices to do the best they can in the face of our current reality.

I do not want to ever have online learning replace the beautiful, profound experience of learning in real time and space––experiences that are REALLY face to face. But for now, I am buoyed by the hope that we will help each other through this and will perhaps learn some lessons to take with us as well. 

Take care, everyone. Sending my best thoughts and energy to each of you… 

Natalie Desch

Published in Finer Points Blog