Boston Conservatory at Berklee Partners with the Ryan Seacrest Foundation to Give TikTok Dance Lessons to Children’s Hospital Patients
Boston Conservatory at Berklee students have long given back to the community by bringing their artistry to vulnerable and underserved audiences, from nursing homes to shelters. Although the pandemic has put a pause on in-person community outreach and performances, sophomore dance students Kaitlin Bachman and Tess Stevens recently gave virtual dance lessons for young patients at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital in North Carolina, through a special partnership between the Berklee Career Center and the Ryan Seacrest Foundation.
Bachman and Stevens adapted the choreography for Doja Cat's "Say So," a viral TikTok dance created by Haley Sharpe, which was broadcast in individual hospital rooms at Levine Children’s Hospital. To mimic the dynamic of an in-person dance class, the pair appeared on a green screen at Ryan Seacrest Studios, where four interns were filmed learning the moves for patients to follow in real time. Modifying the choreography for patients with limited mobility, Bachman and Stevens demonstrated both seated and standing versions of the dance, so that patients unable to leave their beds could join.
Boston Conservatory dance professor Marcus Schulkind, who teaches dance pedagogy, first approached Bachman and Stevens with the opportunity, which was brought to the Dance Division through the Berklee Career Center. “Markus has been the biggest champion of this, and he has a lot of faith in us,” says Bachman. “We were initially given this as a teaching opportunity, but it’s turned into so much more than that,” she adds.
The second-year students have high hopes for expanding this program to nearby Boston-area hospitals and involving more Dance Division students. With the challenges of the last year, the friends note that this experience has been one of the positive aspects of the pandemic, which has opened new doors for connecting with audiences anywhere. Before the widespread use of remote learning technology, Stevens explains, “we’d never have the ability to connect with kids in this way in a hospital in North Carolina.”
Although Bachman and Stevens weren’t able to see the patients during their lesson, they are deeply grateful to be able to use their skills to uplift hospitalized children. As Bachman puts it: “I can’t think of a better feeling than using your art to make someone’s day better.”