By Vivian Roach | Desk Editor
Student Activities has finally proposed a university-approved plan for All-University Sing. Performances are currently scheduled for the last full weekend in April.
Matt Burchett, director of student activities, said Sing will follow the normal eight-week timeline. Starting in March, participant groups can begin practicing, and the virtual performance is scheduled for April 25. The show will be pre-recorded in Waco Hall, followed by a live awards ceremony. As of now, there are no plans to have an in-person audience.
With high hopes, Burchett said scheduling the show at the back end of the semester offers the best opportunity for possibly expanding it.
“Although we’re making decisions today for how we believe the show will need to be executed, there could be future opportunities for an in-person audience or expanded rosters if the conditions improve on campus in a significant way,” Burchett said.
The show will be available nationally for purchase and livestream into your living room. Burchett said there is a possibility of a larger scale viewing for students at McLane Stadium, but that is yet to be determined.
Performance group sizes have been reduced from the normal 200 limit to 65 people. Though Burchett said they started with only allowing 50, after considering the average number of seniors in each organization and finding that the most seniors in an organization was 65, they modified the rules.
“We made the number 65 to ensure that every graduating senior who wanted to participate in the show would be provided the opportunity to do so in their final semester on campus,” Burchett said. “We are really sensitive to first-year students having first-year experiences and last-semester students really completing their time at Baylor in a meaningful way.”
Practices will be hybrid, held on Zoom and in person out in the tent structures on campus.
Cheryl Mathis, assistant director of campus programs, works with Student Productions, the organization which puts on the show. She said practice structure is up to each individual group, but the committee recommends basic moves are focused on over Zoom and learned individually.
“That way when they come in person to have their short weekly rehearsal, they are not having to teach specific moves but can focus on formation and how the transitions happen in the choreography,” Mathis said.
Though there will be significantly fewer in-person practices for groups to come together, Mathis said there are ways to still engage within the group that will maximize the time they do have together.
“With the amount of times that are available for groups to come together, we brainstorm creative ways to bring people together, whether that be you stay in a pod together, maybe that’s your section that you work with to learn your choreography,” Mathis said. “Or, you really maximize your time when you’re in person, whether that be having a schedule, making sure people know what’s happening when you’re in person so that there’s no surprises. Or prep, talk to each other about what’s coming up so that there’s not a lot of lagging or sitting around time.”
Unfortunately, there will be no group singing either because of challenges related to COVID-19. Only soloists will be allowed, and they will have to keep their mask on during the performance along with every other performer. However, Burchett said the School of Music has identified good protocols to follow and the university has a supply of singing masks to use.
Mathis said that the School of Music and theater department have been using masks and provided Sing groups with access to those masks.
“Anyone who is singing will be able to wear one of those so they’ll have an easier way to breathe and also perform, so they don’t have to worry about that mask sitting flat against their face,” she said.
Along with the normal university-wide policy, another requirement for Sing performers is that if they miss more than two weekly testing appointments, student co-curricular experience begins to be compromised. In other words, if they miss more than two weekly testing appointments, they will be ineligible to participate.
“We know that we’re opening up, and in opening up, we are accepting some level of risk associated with allowing students to gather outside of the typical academic environment. In exchange for that risk, our hope is that students test weekly and are being compliant with mask wearing,” Burchett said.
The Student Productions committee has been planning since last semester to ensure the show does go on despite COVID-19 restrictions. As of now, seventeen organizations are registered to compete for a winning title and a chance at Pigskin Revue next fall.
“We’re really excited to provide an opportunity for people to experience Sing this year. I know that it was a big question mark for a long time, but we’ve always been moving forward to provide an experience for people because we know that being engaged on campus is important, as well as getting to be among your peers and celebrating this grand university tradition,” Mathis said.