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Performance in a pandemic: How Yale artists adapted to life during COVID

One of the COVID-19 pandemic’s many harsh impacts has been its stifling effect on live performance. From the days when Broadway went dark to the crash of the arts economy that followed, performers worldwide have felt the consequences of the pandemic over the past two years.

The same has also been true at Yale, which is home to dozens of performance groups, not to mention hundreds of students whose academic curricula require honing their skills in front of live audiences.

But, as they say, the show must go on. And from the earliest days of the pandemic, through the recurrent waves, Yalies have taken creative steps to keep performance alive, exploring ways to engage in their craft — and connect with audiences — in safe and meaningful ways.

This spring, the campus has enjoyed a slow return of live performance, from the reopening of the Yale Repertory Theatre in February to in-person concerts at Yale School of Music. But the process has been a slow, unsteady one, forcing students, faculty, and staff to find innovative ways to convene with each other and communicate their art to audiences. They’ve produced online plays, staged virtual musical collaborations, recorded dance videos, and devised strategies that allowed technical crews to operate remotely.

More than two years since stages went quiet, we take a look back at some of these ways the Yale community found to keep performing.

Together, we adapted,” said Yale School of Music Dean Robert Blocker. “And with the help of technology and even the availability of outdoor spaces on our campus, our students have been able to continue their impassioned work, albeit in less-than ideal circumstances.”

Finding the ‘mood in a Zoom room’

For the Theater and Performance Studies program, whose mission is grounded in live, embodied transmission of knowledge, the pandemic presented obvious and immediate barriers. During the first year of the pandemic, including the entirety of the 2020-21 school year, social distancing requirements prevented artists from rehearsing onstage and performing before audiences in theaters.

So in February, 2021, Emily Coates, professor in the practice of Theater and Performance Studies, helped launch a new project. “Transpositions: Dance Poems for an Online World” gave artists work and creative outlets, while fostering connections for students through space.

Created in collaboration with the Yale Dance Lab — a faculty-directed, co-curricular arts research initiative — in partnership with the Yale Schwarzman Center, the project connected students with 16 professional choreographers to create digital “dance poems.”

The project helped us learn more about what the virtual space can and can’t do,” said Coates, who has a secondary appointment in the directing program at the David Geffen School of Drama. “‘Space-eating,’ a stage practice that enables performers to fly across a stage, which makes dance spectacular — is not an option, squeezed in a bedroom, dancing between your bed and dresser!”

But Coates and the other Transpositions collaborators found surprising possibilities of dancing on Zoom.

Energy exchange is possible over Zoom — that was a clear lesson,” Coates said. “You can feel the mood in a Zoom room, and you can tune in to what another mover is putting out into the space, even on mute, by really listening to their energy.”

Theater Studies professors Nathan Roberts and Elise Morrison also explored some of the profound possibilities of digital performance. The pair co-taught a course during the spring semester in 2021 year called “Alone Together: Live Performance during COVID-19.”

When Broadway shut down in March 2020, it didn’t seem clear how performance would continue,” Roberts said. “Elise and I noticed there were an astonishing amount of creative performance that occurred in the eight months immediately after that moment that was really worthy of attention and study.”

The course analyzed past digital works and culminated in an original live performance by two students over Zoom. The performance, titled “Camera-Ready,” explored themes of surveillance through a “choose your own adventure” style plot, allowing the audience to make choices that would influence the paths the show could take.

Our hope in creating this class was to help students understand that the work emerging in the midst of the global pandemic was extraordinary, but that it was actually a continuation of a long lineage of digital performance,” Roberts said.

In his role as production manager for the curricular Theater Studies season, Roberts and his colleague, Technical Director Tom Delgado, helped students and faculty use technology to create an innovative and robust virtual theater season during the pandemic.

Working with Yale Information Technology Services, they set up remote network systems so that individual actors could access the theater while stage and tech crews worked remotely. These systems allowed directors, lighting designers, sound engineers, and stage managers to control digital equipment far from the stage.

In fact, for one show — a senior project by Chayton Pabich Danyla ‘21 called “Flores caídos” — a stage manager triggered lighting, sound, and camera cues using his smartphone. At the time he was in California. For this show, Pabich Danyla was allowed to work unmasked, in total isolation in the theater, while all other collaborators worked remotely. This show, which premiered in October 2020, was the first senior project of the 2020-2021 season, and the department’s first attempt at a virtual production.

Our students are developing skills that are going to serve them in their work beyond Yale, because they’ve been practiced in crafting digital theater,” said Roberts. “It’s going to be another tool they can draw upon in making their own work marketable to producers, designers and directors.”

Finding silver linings

During the first year of the pandemic, student extracurricular groups also used hybrid formats. Rhythmic Blue, Yale’s hip hop-inspired dance group, learned dances on Zoom and recorded videos of their group dancing in-person and distanced in Beinecke Plaza. The group shared videos on social media, creating a series of virtual dance numbers.

While connecting and dancing over Zoom was lovely, nothing beats moving together and feeding off each other’s energy in real life,” said Ke’ala Akau ’22, who served as co-president of Rhythmic Blue last year. [But] during a time that often felt so physically isolating, I cherished the opportunity to simply be with people.”

The hybrid experience revealed some other silver linings.

Learning movement over Zoom comes with its own challenges such as impaired visibility of the choreographer, directionality challenges, and missing out on nuances in the choreographer’s quality of movement,” Akau said. “This made it difficult to exactly match the choreographer. However, I believe these changes allowed for more interesting, stylistic interpretation of the movements which, as a choreographer, I loved seeing.”

This year, members of Rhythmic Blue were able to resume in-person semester showcases with reduced capacity and masked dancers and audience members.

COVID-19 also disrupted Yale’s vibrant a cappella community. By developing careful public health procedures, however, campus groups were able to resume in-person performances this spring.

The Yale Singing Group Council (SGC), an umbrella organization for a cappella groups led by four senior co-chairs, helped make it possible for a safe return to in-person singing by crafting protocols. This year’s season kicked off in early September with a hybrid concert in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall featuring 16 groups singing before prospective group members.

The excitement and enthusiasm for a cappella from groups and prospective members this year was unlike any other I’ve seen,” said Grace Larrabee ’22, a SGC co-chair who is a member of the group Whim ‘n Rhythm. “The a cappella community on Yale’s campus is so special. I felt honored to have been a part of its return.”

Yale Symphony Orchestra
Yale Symphony Orchestra (Photo by Anisë Murseli)

All together now

During the 2020-21 school year, rehearsals for the Yale Symphony Orchestra (YSO) were performed virtually on Zoom, with groups of musicians split up by instrument.

Last fall, however, musicians were able to rehearse live and in real time, wearing masks. Featuring 93 members, the orchestra performs four concerts per year, plus specialty concerts such as the Halloween Show and a joint “Messiah” concert with the Yale Glee Club. Tickets for this year’s Halloween Show, which was held in person with restricted capacity, sold out in under a minute.

The fact that musicians are able to gather in one place and make music again was a breath of fresh air,” said Supriya Weiss ’24, student president of YSO.

A few weeks into rehearsal last fall, Weiss relished the energy of returning to performance. “You can hear the excitement of the orchestra in every note we play. More than anything, this past year showed me the unwavering resilience of our musicians.”

At the Yale School of Music, during the early months of the pandemic students relied on online instruction and outdoor rehearsals in response to public health restrictions, said Dean Robert Blocker.

Now, nearly two years later, the School of Music is inviting audiences to witness the extraordinary musical gifts of students in person once again. Concerts at the Yale School of Music, which are held in venues such as Sudler Recital Hall, Morse Recital Hall, and Woolsey Hall, are now open to members of the public who are asymptomatic and vaccinated.

Performing for live audiences is what drives and motivates us, and it is what inspires and offers hope to our audiences,” Blocker said. “For our students, whose optimism and spirit gave us the confidence to find a way forward during seemingly impossible conditions, this moment is well deserved.”

Article originally published at YaleNews: https://news.yale.edu/2022/05/06/performance-pandemic-how-yale-artists-adapted-life-during-covid

Gift Ideas for Techy Teens

Teens are more tech-savvy than ever, and they are up to date on the coolest, newest, and trendiest new gadgets. No gift is better for today’s teens than techy gifts, but how do you choose? If you are looking for tech gifts that go beyond the ordinary phone, earphones, and gaming setups, here are some fun and trendy ideas.

Drone

Drones are still among the hottest gifts for people of all ages. Whether they enjoy photography, making online videos, or just playing with remote control devices, a drone is a fun gift. Even better, playing with a drone is a great way to get teens out of their rooms and outside. Drones can range from under a hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, or even more. You can get a high-quality drone with decent video quality for a couple of hundred dollars. Drone deals can be found during holidays, Black Friday events, and other sales.

Drawing Tablet

A drawing tablet is a great gift idea for any artsy teen. With a drawing tablet, they can doodle, draw, or paint to their heart’s content and never run out of supplies! Depending on the tablet you get, they can range from under $100 to much higher. The lower-cost tablets connect to a computer and have only basic features while the higher-end models have tons of features, and often have their own screen or even have an operating system and function as stand-alone computers.

Smart Glasses

Smart glasses are a new and trendy item that tech-loving teens will want to try. From watching videos and movies to playing games, smart glasses can do a lot of things.  You can wear smart glasses to watch a movie without disturbing anyone else, follow a tutorial video at the same time that you are doing a project, or take music lessons while playing your instrument. These glasses are super-cool and would be a great gift for any teen.

3D Pen

If your teen is a lover of art, style, engineering, or sculpture, consider buying them a 3D pen. A 3D pen is a great gift for creative teens who love to doodle or build things. The pen is used like you would any pen, but instead of drawing on paper, you can “draw” 3D designs with melted plastic. You can build models, doodle, or even dowload and print out patterns from the internet to create complex designs.

Smart Garden

If you have a teen who enjoys gardening, houseplants, or cooking, consider buying them a smart garden, indoor aquaponics system, or another small gardening setup. Small indoor gardens that can grow flowers, herbs, salads, and other plants can be a fun and diverting hobby while also bringing fresh air into an area (and what teen room doesn’t need a bit of fresh air?) This is an especially good gift for teens who enjoy plants, cooking, or science, and can bring the outdoors inside during the winter. 

Sleeping Earbuds

Many teens have trouble falling asleep early and getting enough rest. Their circadian rhythms are telling them to stay up later, but school and work obligations get in the way of that. Help your teen get more sleep with sleeping earphones. These earbuds are designed to be worn while sleeping and are less irritating to the ears than regular buds or earphones. They are noise canceling and can play white noise or other soothing sounds to help your teen fall asleep and stay asleep.

Reusable Notebook

Teens have a lot of writing to do in high school and college. Consider buying your techy teen a reusable notebook that can allow them to take notes, make to-do lists, and then erase the pages when they are finished with them. Some notebooks even come with apps that allow you to instantly upload a picture of the page as a document into a number of different productivity programs, cloud storage, or email. If you have an eco-conscience or thrifty teen, this product might be the perfect solution. 

Retro Gaming

Everything old is new again, and that’s also true for the games that were trendy when you were a kid. If your kids enjoy games and hand-held devices, consider getting them a vintage or retro hand-held game from your childhood. Better yet, get yourself one too, and play together.

Instant-Print Camera

The new versions of the old-fashioned picture-spitting cameras are as fun and trendy as their decade-old relatives but have much better picture quality. Instant cameras come in different styles and sizes but no matter what one you choose, your teen and their friends will love it. These cameras aren’t expensive, but prints can cost around a dollar apiece, so they can add up. Regardless of cost, these cameras are perfect for sleepovers, outings, and vacation memories.

Wake-Up Light

Teens can have a hard time waking up, especially when they have early school or work times. Help your teen feel better and wake up happier with a wake-up light. These lights turn on gradually and get brighter as the wake-up time arrives. Some can also be programmed with music or sounds to make sure the user doesn’t sleep in. People who wake up to a gradually increasing light are usually happier and feel less groggy because their bodies were allowed to go through their natural sleep cycles. 

Digital Coin Counter Jar

Do you have a teen who is saving up for that special purchase, like a car, computer, or senior trip? Or maybe your teen just likes cool and innovative gadgets? Either way, a digital coin counting jar is a fun and practical gift. This jar has a lid with a digital counting feature that will add up your coins as you drop them in the jar. It’s fun to see the money add up as you save, and it’s motivating to see how much progress you have made.

Conclusion

No matter what your teen likes to do or what hobbies and interests they have, there is a techy, cool gift perfect for them. Make sure you’re the hero of the event with a perfect gift that will impress and delight your teen.

15 Reasons People Move to Las Vegas

More than just casinos and bright lights, Las Vegas is a city that is constantly growing and changing. People move to Las Vegas for many reasons – some come for the weather, others come for the job opportunities, and others still come for the lifestyle. Here are 15 reasons why people choose to move to Las Vegas, including some of the benefits of living in this vibrant city!

Moving home – especially to another part of the United States – is a big deal. But people do it every day, because everyone is searching for a way of life that is right for them. Life is too short not to! So what are some of the main reasons why people move to Las Vegas?

1. Weather

Las Vegas has an average of 310 sunny days each year, making it an ideal destination for those who love the sun. Temperatures in Las Vegas range from the high 70s to low 90s in the summer, and from the mid-40s to upper 60s in the winter. The city also receives less rain than other parts of the country, making it a great place to live year-round.

2. Job Opportunities

Las Vegas is a hub for economic activity. With the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and many other tourist attractions, there are plenty of job opportunities in the service and hospitality industry. Additionally, the city is home to a growing number of tech companies and startups, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to find a job that fits your skills and interests.

3. House Prices

Las Vegas is a great place to buy a home. The median home price in Las Vegas is around $312,000, making it one of the most affordable cities in the U.S. Additionally, many people move to Las Vegas to take advantage of its low taxes and more relaxed housing regulations. Simply look at Las Vegas homes for sale to see what’s in your price range – you might be surprised!

4. Low Cost of Living

The cost of living in Las Vegas is much lower than other parts of the country. Groceries, utilities, and other essentials all cost less in Vegas than in many other cities. Not to mention, wages tend to be higher in Las Vegas as well, putting more cash in your pocket at the end of every month!

5. Quality of Life

Las Vegas offers a high quality of life with its many amenities, including ample outdoor recreation, an active nightlife, and a wide variety of cultural events. The city also boasts some of the best restaurants in the U.S., making it an ideal destination for foodies.

6. Entertainment

Las Vegas is known for its world-famous nightlife and endless entertainment options. From casinos to music venues and shows, there is something for everyone in the city. Whether you’re looking for a wild night out or a quiet evening in, you’ll find it in Vegas.

7. Education

Las Vegas is home to a number of excellent educational institutions, including the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the College of Southern Nevada. The city also boasts a thriving arts scene and is home to prestigious museums, galleries, and theatres.

8. Location

Las Vegas is situated in the heart of the southwest United States, making it a great spot for people who like to spend time in other famous places. The city is close to other popular destinations, including Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Grand Canyon.

9. No State Income Tax

Las Vegas is one of the few states that does not impose a state income tax. This is a great advantage for those who are looking to maximize their income, as the money they earn will not be taken out in taxes.

10. Diversity

Las Vegas is a city that celebrates diversity and embraces people from all walks of life. With its large immigrant population, the city has a rich and vibrant culture that makes it an exciting place to live.

11. Quality Healthcare

Las Vegas is home to some of the best healthcare facilities in the country, meaning that you can easily access quality care when needed. This is important to many people who want to ensure a certain quality of life for years to come. Additionally, Nevada has recently expanded its Medicaid program, meaning that more people are able to access the care they need.

12. Outdoor Adventures

Las Vegas is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. Whether you’re into hiking, camping, or exploring the desert, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in and around the city. Additionally, Las Vegas is home to a number of stunning golf courses, where you can practice your swing in the warm sun.

13. Affordable Vacations

Nevada is a great place to plan a vacation if you’re living in Las Vegas. With a wide variety of casinos, resorts, and attractions, you can plan an unforgettable vacation without breaking the bank or traveling too far from home. Visit the Hoover Dam, kick back at Lake Tahoe, or even experience wildlife up close at the Lion Habitat Ranch.

14. Sports and Recreation

Las Vegas is home to a number of professional sports teams, including the Las Vegas Raiders and the Las Vegas Aces. Additionally, there are plenty of options for recreational activities, such as golf courses and parks. The city also hosts a wide variety of sporting events throughout the year, from boxing and mixed martial arts to soccer and baseball.

15. Good for Retirement

Whether you’re retiring now or in the future, Las Vegas is a great place to spend your golden years. With its mild climate, low cost of living, and high quality of life, Las Vegas is an ideal spot to settle down and enjoy life. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by a variety of interesting entertainment options, great restaurants, and plenty of outdoor activities.

What Are the Risks of a Data Leak?

A data leak occurs when unauthorized individuals gain access to confidential data. Individuals and organizations use firewalls, encryption, and the top 5 free redaction tools for data redaction to protect their sensitive information. However, data breaches can still occur if those tools are not implemented properly or if the wrong people are given access. These breaches can jeopardize the security and privacy of individuals and businesses and lead to millions in financial losses.

Since most of us use the internet daily to access company websites, order products, and manage our bank accounts, it is easy to see how a data breach can be inconvenient. However, there may be more serious consequences than having a fake Facebook profile created or not being able to access your account for several days. Read on to find out more about how a data leak can negatively impact your personal life in more ways than one.

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is one of the most common types of identity theft associated with data breaches. When sensitive information such as credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes is compromised, thieves can use these details to make fraudulent purchases online or withdraw cash from ATMs. These sneaky transactions can go unnoticed until the cardholder checks their credit card statement weeks later. Reporting such fraudulent transactions can be difficult since many card companies will not cover unauthorized charges if the cardholder failed to report the breach within a certain timeframe.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when an individual uses another person’s personal information to commit fraud or other crimes. This is a major risk after a data breach because criminals can use the stolen information to open new bank accounts in the victim’s name, apply for loans or mortgages, or send false tax documents to the government. Identity theft can be difficult to detect because it can span several sources, including financial accounts and medical records. Victims may end up becoming liable for expenses related to the theft and may even be charged for crimes committed by the person who stole their identity.

Financial Loss

Even if your identity does not get stolen, your data can still be used by hackers to steal money from your bank accounts or open new credit card accounts. Unlike credit card fraud which only affects your credit account associated with the card, financial identity theft allows the perpetrator to have direct access to all your funds. They can transfer your funds from your bank account into others accounts or take out high-interest cash advances. Because it can be difficult to prove hacking or phishing and investigations can take months, victims are often left to cope with their financial losses or outstanding loan balances.

Credit Damage

Your credit report contains information that creditors use to make decisions about a variety of applications. It contains details such as your FICO score and credit accounts, along with records of late payments and bankruptcies. It is notoriously difficult to rehabilitate a poor credit report. When you are a victim of financial identity theft, you may face damage to your credit rating because your credit history will be linked with the criminal’s identity and activities—even after they have been arrested. This can result in denied loan applications or the loss of a job opportunity due to a negative credit check.

Reputation Damage

Even if you do not suffer any financial loss because of a hacker’s actions, your name may still end up being involved in criminal activity. For instance, if the thief has access to your private medical information, they may use this information to apply for medical services in your name or to obtain prescription drugs for illegal purposes. Your private information may also be published on the internet. Details about your personal life that you do not want to be public knowledge may be revealed. This can tarnish your reputation, cause personal problems, and even cost you a valuable professional opportunity that you were pursuing.

Legal Proceedings

When your identity is stolen, you will need to resolve the issue with the authorities as well as various financial institutions. The process can take time and it can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with law enforcement or legal proceedings. You may even find that you face criminal charges! Although you are the victim of the data breach, the perpetrator is seldom found. This means that you are liable for shouldering all the legal costs associated with protecting your identity and proving your innocence in the case of criminal charges. These costs can quickly become prohibitive and can cause you even more stress and trauma.

According to a report by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), data breaches have grown substantially in recent years. There were 1,862 data compromises in 2021, impacting approximately 294 million people. If you are unlucky enough to fall victim to one of these incidents, you may have to deal with a lengthy investigation, lost savings, legal costs, and more.

The Internet is a wonderful place to connect with others and be entertained, but it is important to stay safe when using it. Keeping your computer up to date, avoiding suspicious websites, and securing your personal information can go a long way in preventing a data breach from happening to you.

5 Tips for Choosing Your Next Vacation Destination

When it comes to vacations, everyone has different ideas of what makes a good one. Maybe it’s exploring a new city or connecting with nature. Perhaps you just want to unwind on vacation, or maybe you like to fill your trip with endless activities and sightseeing. Whatever you enjoy, there’s no doubt that there’s a destination for everyone.

But how can you choose your next vacation destination? The world is a big place, and there are so many things to see and do. Whether you have some vacation time coming up or you’re looking to spend your united airlines delayed flight compensation money on another trip, here are some tips on how to choose the best destination.

1. Consider what kind of traveler you are.

Everyone has their own idea of what a vacation is. Maybe it’s lounging by the pool and drinking cocktails, or perhaps it’s backpacking in the mountains. Your travel style will affect what kind of destination you choose. So think about what you want to get out of your vacation. Are you hoping to relax and get away from a bustling city? Do you enjoy visiting historical, cultural, and archeological sites? Do you love being in nature, or do you prefer a city with all of its conveniences? Thinking about these questions will help you start to narrow down your list of potential destinations. 

2. Calculate how much you have to spend.

Your budget is another critical factor to consider. International travel might be impossible on a small budget, so make sure you have enough in the bank to get where you want to go. Start by searching how much flight costs to different locations that you’re interested in. You might find that some are significantly cheaper to fly to. Also, if you search ahead of time and are flexible with your travel dates and destination, you can find great deals on airfare. You also need to calculate how much you’ll spend on accommodations, food, and activities. While a tight budget may feel limiting, there are lots of amazing places you can visit that are inexpensive. 

3. Think outside the box.

Some destinations are extremely popular with tourists, especially during certain times of the year. This can make these destinations expensive and crowded. If you prefer some peace for your vacation and want to save money, don’t follow the crowd when choosing a travel destination. The destinations that you constantly see on social media and the perfect dates for visiting are likely to be the most crowded. Instead, do some research and look for a destination that’s less popular, or visit during the off-season. There are many hidden gems to be discovered. You can use this strategy when planning vacation activities as well. Of course, the most famous places and activities are always the most crowded. But there are plenty of things to do that the average tourist might not choose. By thinking outside of the box, you could discover an awesome new place and enjoy it without being surrounded by crowds. 

4. Consider how much time you have.

Whether you have a long weekend available or are looking to take a six-month-long sabbatical, the length of time you have for your trip is something you need to consider before choosing a destination. It doesn’t really make sense to take a twelve-hour flight to a destination when you only have a weekend for your vacation. If you’re limited on time, you should choose somewhere close by, but if you are planning a long trip, take advantage of the time and go somewhere farther away. 

You also need to consider how time will affect how much you can do during your trip. If you visit a large country and want to see everything it has to offer, you’ll need to plan a long trip. But if you only have a short time to visit, don’t try to do everything. Pick a few activities or sights you want to see and plan ahead what day you can do each one. You might not make it to all of them, but the important thing is to enjoy the time you do have. 

5. Keep in mind who you’re traveling with.

Family vacations are a lot different from solo travel. If you’re traveling with a group, you need to consider their needs when making plans. If kids are involved, you probably shouldn’t plan any activities that require a lot of walking or that might be boring for them. Perhaps if some of the adults on the trip have an activity they want to do that isn’t child-friendly, someone can stay with the child while the others make their own plans. Accommodating a large group can be difficult when planning a vacation, so if you like the freedom of choosing activities on a whim, it might be best to travel solo or with one partner. Whatever your situation, keep in mind the needs of others when choosing your destination.

Making travel plans can be fun, but it’s not always easy to choose the right place to visit. Thankfully, you can choose a new place each time you travel and explore many different sights and countries. Use these tips to help you choose the best destination for your next vacation.