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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

Signs That Your Web Browser May Have Been Hacked

You may have heard of people getting hacked and their personal information being stolen. But did you know that there are signs in your browser that can indicate when this has happened to you? Hackers are always finding new ways to steal information, and they often do it through your web browser. Here are some of the different types of messages you might see in your browser, and what to look for in terms of the latest hackers and scams.

A web browser is a software application that allows you to access the internet. It’s what you use when you want to go to a website or view an online video. Some of the most popular web browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Bing, Safari and Microsoft Edge.

Hackers can use your web browser to do a lot of different things. They can install malicious software (malware) on your computer, steal your personal information, or even hijack your web browser and use it to attack other computers.

There are a few different types of messages you might see in your web browser that can indicate you’ve been hacked. 

Redirects

Another type of message you might see is a redirect. This is when you try to go to one website but get redirected to another site instead. Redirects can be caused by things like typos or outdated links, but they can also be caused by malware.

If you see a message that says: “You have been redirected to a different site,” that’s a sign that your computer may have been infected with malware. Malware on your computer can change the settings that control how your web browser works, and that can lead to you being redirected to different websites, even if you type in the correct URL.

If you’re ever redirected to a website that looks suspicious, don’t enter any personal information on the site. And be sure to run a malware scan on your computer as soon as possible.

According to cybersecurity expert Norbert Webb, sometimes the installation of suspicious programs on your computer can cause redirects such as the Bing redirect. If you’re not sure if a redirect is happening legitimately or not, do a bit more research to find out if other users have had similar problems.

Pop-Ups

One type of message you might see is a pop-up window. Pop-ups are small windows that appear on top of the web page you’re viewing. They can be used for legitimate purposes, like showing an advertisement, but they can also be used by hackers to install malware or steal your personal information.

If you see a pop-up that looks suspicious, don’t click on it. Hackers can make pop-ups look like they’re from a legitimate website, but clicking on them can still lead to your computer getting infected with malware. Instead, try to close the pop-up by clicking the ‘X’ in the corner of the window.

If you can’t close the pop-up, or if it keeps coming back after you’ve closed it, that’s a sign that your computer may have been infected with malware.

Unwanted Browser Toolbars

Another sign that your computer may have been hacked is the appearance of unwanted browser toolbars. Browser toolbars are small programs that can add extra features to your web browser, like a new search bar or an email notification feature.

Some browser toolbars are legitimate and can be useful, but others are created by hackers and can be used to steal your personal information or track your web browsing activity.

If you see a new toolbar in your web browser that you didn’t install, that’s a sign that your computer may have been hacked. To get rid of the toolbar, try to remove it through your browser’s settings. If you can’t remove it that way, you may need to uninstall the program that added the toolbar.

You should also run a malware scan on your computer to make sure there isn’t any other malicious software installed.

Fake Antivirus Messages

One of the most common ways that hackers try to trick people into installing malware is by displaying fake antivirus messages. These messages usually pop up in your web browser and claim that your computer is infected with a virus. The message will often say that you need to download and install a specific program to remove the virus.

But these messages are just fake. The program that they want you to download is actually malware, and installing it will just make your computer more vulnerable to attack.

If you see a message like this, don’t click on any of the links in the message. And don’t download or install the program that it’s telling you to. Just close the message and run a malware scan on your computer. Make sure you know which brand of anti-virus software you have legitimately installed on your computer, so you can be sure if the message is fake or genuine. Navigate directly to the trusted website of your anti-virus software company if you’re still not sure if a message is real or not.

These are just a few of the different types of messages you might see in your web browser if your computer has been hacked. If you see any of these messages, it’s important to take action right away to protect your personal information and prevent your computer from being further compromised. Be sure to run a malware scan on your computer and change any passwords that may have been compromised. And if you’re ever unsure about a message, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted computer specialist for help.

Why Your Essay Writing Style Matters at College

It’s no secret that college is a time when your writing skills are put to the test. Whether you’re writing papers for class or submitting essays for scholarships, your ability to write well is critical. But what many students don’t realize is that essay writing style matters just as much as the content itself. Here’s why your essay writing style matters at college and how it can affect your grades and future opportunities. 

An essay is a formal writing sample that presents a clear thesis, supports that thesis with evidence, and uses persuasive language to argue in favor of the thesis. An essay should also be well organized, coherent, and free of errors. In other words, your essay writing style matters just as much as what you’re actually saying. If you don’t get the style right, the reader will not be able to connect effectively with what you are actually writing.

Essay writing doesn’t come as easily to some people as for others. It can be especially tough on people whose chosen college subjects are more on the science trajectory than on the communications, language or humanities side of things. Yet most college students are required to write essays at some point. It’s important to remember there is always help out there, from tutor support to an essay writing service. But why do your essay writing skills matter so much at college? Here’s why.

It Demonstrates Your Understanding

Different colleges have different standards, but in general, your essay writing style will say a lot about you as a student. A well-written essay shows that you are able to think critically about the subject matter, analyze information, and express yourself clearly and effectively. This is important not only for getting good grades in your classes, but also for demonstrating to future employers that you have the skills they are looking for.

It Helps You Express Yourself

For many students, college is the first time they are really able to express themselves without having to worry about what other people think. This can be a liberating experience, but it can also be a bit daunting. Essay writing is one of the best ways to get your voice out there and make your opinions known. But in order for people to take you seriously, you need to make sure your writing is clear, concise, and well-argued. Learning how to express yourself better, whether it’s written down or verbally, is something you will use in many areas of your life.

It Improves Your Spelling and Grammar

This one might seem a bit obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Good spelling and grammar are essential not only for getting good grades, but also for making sure you are taken seriously as a writer. If your essay is full of typos and poor grammar, it will be difficult for the reader to take your argument seriously. This is why it’s so important to proofread your work carefully before you submit it. And improving your essay writing skills will help you improve your spelling and grammar knowledge as a whole.

It’s a Chance to Stand Out

In a large lecture class, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. But if you submit a well-written and thoughtful essay, your professor will take notice. This is your chance to show them what you’re really capable of and to get the attention you deserve. This might lead to other opportunities to learn and get involved in. For example, when professors get funding to do some research, they may need to hire a student for summer jobs. If they know you’re a good student and can write well, you’ll stand a better chance of being chosen for extra opportunities like this.

It Can Help You Get Scholarships

There are many scholarships available to college students, but the competition can be fierce. A great essay can help you stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of getting awarded a scholarship. Scholarship essays require you to demonstrate your writing skills, as well as your ability to think critically and express yourself clearly. You’ll need to make your points in a clear and compelling way to resonate with whoever reads it. If you can do this, you’ll be one step closer to getting the funding you need for college.

You’ll Get Better Grades

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you submit a well-written essay, you’re more likely to get a good grade than if you submit something that’s poorly written. Even if the content of your essay is good, an examiner will deduct marks if it’s not presented in a clear and coherent way. Every grade counts at college, as they all help you to achieve the scores you need to pass and get the qualification you’re there for.

It Improves Your Employability

In a competitive job market, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re standing out from the crowd. One way to do this is by ensuring that your written communication skills are up to par. If you can write well, it shows that you’re able to communicate effectively and express yourself in a clear and concise way. This is a valuable skill that will impress potential employers and help you get the job you want. Writing well will help you with writing your resume and job application letters. But it will also help you when you actually start working. All jobs require some level of written skills, and having good essay writing skills is the best way to practice this.

Why Rent an Apartment in Los Angeles? 10 Benefits of Living in LA

If you’re thinking of moving to Los Angeles, or if you’re just curious about what the benefits of living there are, LA has something to offer everyone. Here are the top 10 benefits of getting a rental in the city.

The City of Angels has been a hugely popular place to live for as long as most people can remember. Los Angeles is a center of entertainment and a hub of excitement. It also has incredible work opportunities, and endless possibilities for socializing and living outdoor lifestyles. The city has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a relaxed lifestyle or an adventurous one, and whether you have a family or are exploring life solo. Here are the top 10 benefits of renting an apartment in Los Angeles.

1. Entertainment

 LA is a great place to live if you want to be close to the action. There are always things happening in the city, and there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for a job in the entertainment industry, or simply want to absorb the creative energy, Los Angeles is the place for you.

2. Work Opportunities

Beyond the movie and entertainment industry, the city also has great work opportunities in other sectors. Plenty of corporate headquarters are based in Los Angeles, and many more businesses have their West Coast presence here. If you’re looking for a job in business, finance, or any other field, LA is definitely worth considering.

3. Weather

Los Angeles has great weather year-round, which makes it perfect for outdoor activities. And with so many things to do outdoors, you’ll never get bored. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, or just exploring the city streets, there’s always something to do in LA.

4. Neighborhoods

As a huge city, Los Angeles is a city of neighborhoods, and getting to know many of them is a pleasure. Before you move to LA, it’s a good idea to start exploring these neighborhoods, so you know which one might be a good fit for you. For example, if you love Asian culture, you’ll want to look for apartments for rent in Koreatown. If you want to be right by the beach, a neighborhood like Redondo Beach might be more your thing.

5. Beaches

Even if you don’t stay right by the beach, renting an apartment in Los Angeles also gives you access to some of the best beaches in the world. With over 20 miles of coastline, there’s sure to be a beach that’s perfect for you. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax and soak up the sun, or you’re looking for a place to surf and paddleboard, LA has it all.

6. Foodie Scene

Los Angeles is also home to a thriving foodie scene. With so many different cultures represented in the city, there are endless options for dining out. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a gourmet meal, you’ll be able to find it in LA. There are also restaurants in the city that have gained international acclaim, or that have celebrity chefs at the helm, which is also a huge pull factor.

7. Thriving Art Community

Not only is Los Angeles home to a lot of entertainment and dining options, but it also has a thriving art community. There are galleries and museums all over the city, and you can find public art on almost every block. If you’re looking for a place to appreciate and be inspired by art, LA is definitely the place for you. There are also many music events and festivals that take place in LA throughout the year, which makes it a great place to live for music lovers too.

8. Outdoor Exercise

Los Angeles is a great place to live if you’re looking to get fit and healthy. Something that locals love about LA is that there so many opportunities for outdoor exercise, and the weather is perfect for this year-round. Whether you’re looking to go hiking, biking, or swimming, you’ll be able to find plenty of options in LA. Yoga on the beach at some point is a must too! And if you’re looking for a more structured workout or like to stick to your indoor exercising habits, there are also many gyms and yoga studios located throughout the city.

9. Access to California

Renting an apartment in Los Angeles also gives you easy access to some of California’s most stunning national parks. If you love nature and spending time outdoors, this is a huge perk. Yosemite, Sequoia, and Joshua Tree are all within driving distance of the city, which means you can explore them on weekends or even take a week-long road trip to see them all. Aside from the national parks, California has so much to offer. From the wine country to the desert, there’s always something new to explore.

10. Travel the World

Another great aspect of living in Los Angeles is its incredibly well-connected airport. LAX is one of the busiest airports in the world, which means you can easily travel to any destination you desire. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, there are endless possibilities when you live in LA. And if you have family roots in a different part of the United States, domestic flights from LAX are a breeze.

Why Your Business Should Invest in Digital Marketing

Searching for something online is part of our daily routine. Thousands of searches are in motion every minute of the day and people are constantly scrolling on social media platforms. Digital marketing can get your brand onto the screens of your target audience and help your business to succeed in a highly-competitive world.

Unlimited Outreach

Despite publications, billboards and broadcast media, outreach is relatively limited in traditional marketing. With billions of users on the Internet that are not confined to a specific geographical location, the potential of digital marketing outreach is boundless. Being able to promote products and services to a large audience from all around the world can bring higher sales and profits for businesses.

For SMEs, the ability to access the global marketplace can help you to gain a competitive advantage over other local-bound companies. Because digital marketing can be considered a clean slate, smaller businesses have a chance at achieving better visibility in a landscape previously dominated by the bigger players. The increase in leads and sales can lead to greater investment and productivity which is essential in driving business growth.

Local Is Also Online

Businesses that work with a local clientele may feel that it is unnecessary to invest in digital marketing. However, surveys have shown that most local shoppers do their research online before heading in-store to make a purchase. If your business does not have a strong online presence for consumers to find when they are searching for a product or service, you may be losing sales to other businesses.

Potential customers in your vicinity may not be aware that your business exists. Tools such as Google Maps can help local customers to better locate and contact your business. Digital marketing can help ensure that your business appears in the top results of location-based searches to receive more clicks. In addition, customers can leave a positive review on your profile, providing social evidence to influence other shoppers.

Audience Targeting

Unlike traditional marketing that uses a broad approach, digital marketing allows you to target the precise audience demographic that you seek. Numerous digital marketing tools can help you to pinpoint your exact audience and tailor your campaigns to address them. Factors such as age, gender, marital status, hobbies, location, and online shopping habits can all be considered when formulating your digital marketing campaigns.

There are similarly a variety of channels that you can choose from such as Google or Instagram that act as aggregators for the right kind of audience. When you choose the right channel, focus on a specific target audience, and carefully craft content just for them, you can improve your leads capture and conversion rate exponentially.

Impressive ROI

Compared to conventional marketing, digital marketing boasts an impressive ROI. You can choose pay-per-click advertising campaigns where you only have to pay for the leads that you obtain or you can run campaigns based on the number of unique viewers who see your ad. Either way, it is easy for you to set a budget and control your expenditure.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful digital marketing strategy with one of the highest rates of ROI. For example, if you engage reputable SEO services in Cambridgeshire, they can help you to reach the top spots in Google’s search results. The effects of SEO last long after your initial investment. SEO can bring your business visibility and leads that last for months and years. The more SEO you do, the more benefits you reap.

Measurable Benefits

Another perk of digital marketing is that all your marketing efforts come with measurable data. This data can be analyzed to gain more useful information. For instance, you can use your campaign data to find out more about your audience’s behavior. You can also use it to formulate more effective campaign strategies and advertising copy.

The ability to access in-depth data from your digital marketing campaigns will likewise allow you to measure the success and ROI of your strategy. If you have a high number of leads but a low number of conversions, you will know to work on your landing page strategies or strengthen your multi-channel marketing. You can use it to determine which strategies post a better return or use it as a reference for your upcoming marketing budget.

Easily Scalable

With digital marketing, you can scale your marketing budget up or down almost instantly. You can start small and scale up as your capabilities increase or start with a bang and watch the leads roll in. Because digital marketing has a variety of paths that can serve both short and long-term interests, you can choose where to focus your marketing attention.

No matter what business you are in, it makes sense to invest in digital marketing. Even a business with just a website is more discoverable than one that can only be found on paper directories. By spending time on digital outreach, search engine optimization, and campaign analysis, you can scale your marketing efforts and take your business to greater heights.