News Flash

Leisure Services

Posted on: April 29, 2020

Dancing solo: Seniors get their final moment on the CPAC stage

A dancer performs at CPAC.

COOKEVILLE – It wasn’t quite the reception Cassidy Wheeler had envisioned for her senior dance recital.

No audience. No applause. No congratulatory hugs from family and friends. No fellow dancers to share in the moment. Just an empty auditorium, except for a couple of lighting and sound technicians at Cookeville Performing Arts Center.

The Cookeville High School senior left the stage on a quiet note on April 28, having recorded her solo recital to be viewed by others at a later time. She had danced to a Taylor Swift song, ending the number holding her graduation cap.

When she left, another senior arrived. The scenario repeated over the next couple of days, with one performance after another.

Wheeler appreciated the opportunity. After all, a few weeks ago, with the threat of the COVID-19 virus, she and other local seniors in various studios and school dance programs thought their last chance to shine under the spotlight had been taken away.

“To come here and to be able to do this is such a blessing,” she said. “I get to have one last time on stage.”

Chad McDonald, Cookeville Leisure Services cultural arts superintendent, noted the stark difference between this year and previous years due to social distancing recommendations from local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control.

“Normally, we would have dozens of dancers and instructors at CPAC daily working and preparing for spring performances,” he said. “It is unprecedented and sad, not only for the dancers and teachers, but for the community that supports them.”

McDonald is pleased that CPAC was able to offer an alternative way for the senior dancers to show off their talents – that is, by producing videos for each of them.

“We fully understand the time, work and dedication it takes to prepare for performances,” he said. “While it was impossible to create a way for everyone to perform, we did not want local seniors to miss out on their one chance to dance. So we provided this non-traditional format to allow it to happen. It also provides a way for family members and friends to see them perform while current guidelines prevent their actual attendance.”

The facility was sanitized prior to all dancers entering for rehearsals and performances, and only one dancer and instructor were allowed in the auditorium at a time.

All recordings will be available on the Cookeville Leisure Services YouTube channel under the Senior Solo playlist beginning May 5.

“We were happy to provide this opportunity to all of the dancers and congratulate them on their performances,” McDonald said, noting that the seniors were each given a flower as they left to celebrate their achievement.

Wheeler expressed her gratitude to CPAC.

“They’re awesome for doing this,” she said. “This is so cool.”