Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
As a part of the 2020 Family Weekend, After Dark has also shifted to a virtual format this semester. There will be a one-time link available at 6:30 p.m. on Friday for individuals to view different talents by Baylor students filmed in various locations around Waco.
As opposed to years in the past, this year’s show will be free to the public.
While around 20 acts applied, the show will feature a total of 11 acts ranging from dance routines, to singing, playing instruments, spoken word poetry and juggling.
Each act has been pre-filmed at various spots around campus including the Mars McLean Gym, the Bill Daniel Student Union Building Bowl Stage, Fountain Mall and Elliston Chapel, as well as throughout the Waco community. These individual acts have been compiled into one video for viewers.
The planning for this event started over the summer as Student Activities and the Student Productions Committee worked together to come up with a new format. Cheryl Mathis, assistant director of campus programs, said that as planning began, everybody on the committee was excited to see a compiled video production of the acts.
“We were actually lucky this year,” Mathis said. “Last year’s executive producer came up with the idea of having an online auditioning process or submission process throughout the summer of 2019, and so I think there’s some divine planning when things happen like that.”
Bellevue senior Baxter Swint serves as this year’s After Dark executive student producer. She said that similarly to Family Weekend planning, the Student Productions Committee was asked by the university to plan for in-person, hybrid and online delivery.
“As the summer started coming to a close, we realized we weren’t going to be able to do it in person,” Swint said. “We got with Matt Davidson from Sidekick, and we started talking with him and talking about potentially filming across Waco in general.”
She said the most difficult part of the planning process was advertising, as the committee wasn’t around many people in person.
“We created an ad campaign in the very beginning with all the different ads,” Swint said. “We just put different music pieces or some of the photos we had from the year before, we would use those and just be able to display that, give out information with the link.”
Swint said that they typically aim for between 12 to 16 acts in one show, but with the new online format, they decreased that number. Each act was paired with a different producer who was then responsible for working with the act to create a time slot and location to be filmed.
“We would film probably four or five times depending on what the sound quality was, what the light quality was, and the different angles that they would need,” Swint said. “Acts that were more active, like the dancing ones, usually we need more than something like a vocal or a piano piece.”
Centreville, Va., senior Jenna Frisby is president of the Baylor Dance Company and said that they are a part of After Dark each year. Frisby said that five officers will be performing in the contemporary style dance.
“We competed this piece last year with our full company at a convention in Fort Worth — it was called Dance Revolution — and we won the Rising Star award, which is the highest honor that they gave,” Frisby said.
The piece was originally choreographed by a former Baylor student and previous president of BDC.
“It was a really great piece, and we were really excited to perform it again even though we had to downscale from 28 people to five people because of COVID guidelines and because of student productions guidelines, which we were happy to do,” Frisby said.
She said while there are usually several rehearsals for After Dark, this year they only had their filming time.
“They hired a professional film crew to come film us with two different cameras, different angles,” Frisby said. “We did it a few times for them to get different perspectives, so it’s definitely very unique and a lot different than the typical experience, but it’s very cool.”
Magnolia senior Matthew Cole will be exhibiting his talent of juggling in the show for the third year in a row.
He said that he got to film his portion of the show at Lover’s Leap in Cameron Park and showcased juggling with balls and then moved into juggling clubs.
Cole said that he was first introduced to juggling by a clown at Chick-Fil-A when he was nine years old. He had gone to eat dinner with his family and ended up beginning to learn the trade. From there, he said, he continued to pursue growing his talent.
“I practiced until I could do a bunch of three ball tricks, and then I got my parents to buy me more juggling balls, and then I practiced,” Cole said. “I could do like five balls, and then I asked my parents for juggling clubs and so on and so forth.”
Cole said with this online format, he was able to do multiple takes of his portion of the video and, therefore, could insert harder tricks into his performance.
“I was able to do a lot harder stuff that was less likely for me to get on the first try because if I dropped it, you just edit that out, and then I could move on,” Cole said. “They could take whatever take I actually got so that was a really interesting difference in that I could actually prepare a routine that had a bit more crazy stuff in it.”
Lake Bluff, Ill., senior Ellie Thomas said she was able to do around four to five takes while filming her tap routine to “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift on the roof of Dutton Parking Garage.
“There were two cameras,” Thomas said. “Each time I did it, they got different angles.”
Mathis said that with the online format, she hopes that the students will receive more exposure for their talents.
“We also hope that this will provide some really great advertising for After Dark itself,” Mathis said. “Maybe next year, we’ll get even more students interested in participating and more audience members than we have before.”
Cole said it adds an ability for people who may not have gone to the in-person show to be able to see it.
“It’ll make it easier for my friends to go and watch it because in the past, if they’re busy on Friday night, they’re busy on Friday night,” Cole said. “Whereas now, like [I] said, they just get the link. I definitely think it’s a cool opportunity.”