Sidelined Morganettes dancers cope with new normal

Mar 10, 2021

With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing for a year, many sports and activities on college campuses have had to adapt to the new adjustments, including shutdowns. 

For the Morganettes, a student organization-based dance team at Morgan State University, the team’s last halftime performance occurred last March, at a basketball game against crosstown rival Coppin State. The Morganettes, a close group of 12 young women, pre-pandemic they practiced with one another Monday through Friday for about two hours each day. 

Jaime Lyons of Springdale, Maryland, who identifies as a student-athlete, is an undergraduate student at Morgan State University. Because of the lack of practice and active interactions with her fellow Morganettes, she is uneasy about the growing absence of dance in her life. 

Lyons said not dancing has impacted her significantly. Since childhood, dancing was a consonant entity in her life. When speaking with Lyons, she emphasized how the drastic pause due to the pandemic hit her hard. 

Lyons said she and team members have been "playing it by ear," and she isn't sure their coach is aware of steps to navigating the continuation of practices during the pandemic.

Also, because of the halt on life, individuals are now doing more surviving due to Covid-19 regulations; Lyons said their coach and the team planned to do videos and projects virtually. However, it never happened. Lyons also said everyone is in "different mindsets," with jobs and different scheduling.  The task to get everyone on the same timeframe became substantial. 

Alia and Alexis Knight-Kemp of New Jersey were both members of the Morganettes during the beginning of the pandemic in spring semester of 2020. Both Alia and Alexis graduated from Morgan State last spring. 

Alia was a Morganette for four years, while Alexis was a Morganette for three. 

“The pandemic definitely changed our everyday routine that we were used to of practicing and training every weekday, preparing for basketball games or school activities and having to adjust to not being able to be together as a team physically,” says Alexis.

Alia said: “Unfortunately once the pandemic started and the stay-at-home order was put in place, with many dancers on the team from different states, we weren’t able to have formal practices.”

Once the pandemic hit, it was up to the Morganettes to figure out how they were going to operate, since everyone had to go home for the remainder of the semester, unless they were in on-campus housing. 

“We came up with creative ways to stay active by partnering with a Baltimore freedom school’s youth organization for Instagram live dance and reading activities, held a zoom class to connect with our team alumnae, and we also created our first virtual dance week, full of dance challenges to encourage those at home to stay active and have fun with us,” said Alexis. 

According to the NCAA Division I Council, regulations for men and women’s basketball include the elimination of scrimmages and exhibitions during this season, teams can only play up to 27 regular-season games, if they play in a multi-team event, and teams must play at least 13 games to be eligible for the NCAA tournament.

Most teams are not allowing spectators to attend games in-person, and are opting to live-stream their games.

In the coming months, students, alumni, faculty and fans could be able to see more of the Morganettes and other collegiate dance teams as they continue to adapt to “the new normal.”


 

Both writers are graduate students in the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication