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In COVID-19 times, Cabrillo’s Visual, Applied, and Performing Arts (VAPA) division gets creative

Presented by Cabrillo College

The show must go on: the performing arts have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cabrillo’s Dance, Theatre Arts, and Music faculty have rallied with an unparalleled commitment to their students.

The performing arts have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the face-to-face and performance-based curriculum of Cabrillo College’s Visual, Applied, and Performing Arts Division has also suffered. While the College as a whole saw an enrollment decline in Fall semester 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the CZU Lightning Complex wildfires, the decline in VAPA classes was the most severe, down 23% over the previous year’s Fall semester enrollment.

However, Cabrillo’s Visual, Applied, and Performing Arts faculty have rallied with an unparalleled commitment to and passion for their art and the love of teaching. They’ve planned and prepared to offer both instruction and performance in a safe, socially distanced manner that allows the beauty of the art to shine.


(Cabrillo College)

In a year of challenges and innovation, guest artists Angela Chambers, Micha Scott, Melissa C. Wiley, and faculty choreographers Ceech Hsu and Janet Johns, have created six dance works for students that were filmed and edited by video artist Mara Milam.

Dancing with distance, masks, and a whole lot of empathy, Cabrillo dancers rehearsed in their separate homes and, for short periods at a time, on the stage of the Crocker Theater, in socially distanced, taped boxes on the stage.

According to Dance Department Chair David King and Dance Faculty Cid Pearlman, “these resulting dances, premiered on December 12 and available online for free viewing, are a continuation of the creative and embodied spirit of the Cabrillo Dance Community as it moves together through difficult times. The dances remind us that the bodies that are at risk from this virus are also vessels of creativity, expression, and collective spirit.”

View the 2020 Cabrillo Dance Concert below:


Theatre Arts

Every year, Cabrillo’s Theatre Arts Department provides its students with an opportunity to audition for, rehearse, and present a play to the Cabrillo and greater community. This year, Skip Epperson and acclaimed local director Don Williams chose to produce Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize Winning “SWEAT,” a play that brings to the stage many current themes that society is struggling with today, including how poverty is reshaping America and the erosion of the middle class.

Students auditioned from home online, rehearsed online, and came to campus occasionally to block scenes and to record the final performance, that would be streamed over the course of two weekends. With the live premiere on December 5th, viewers could watch free, streamed performances of the production online from cabrillovapa.com through December 13th.

See the promotional video for SWEAT below:



With the high potential for spreading aerosol droplets, singing, and even playing wind instruments, can be high risk activities for the possibility of COVID spread. Safety measures are of paramount importance, and Cabrillo’s dedicated Music Department faculty persevered, finding creative ways to continue their passion for the music, love of teaching, and commitment to delivering excellent performances to the Santa Cruz County Community.

With temperatures taken, wearing masks and face shields, standing 12-feet apart, in the Cabrillo Parking Garage A, Cabrillo’s Chorale, Cantiamo!, and Symphonic Chorus groups rehearsed all semester, sometimes in the heat, sometimes in the cold, enduring the sounds of traffic on Soquel Avenue.

garage singers
(Cabrillo College)

When not in person, rehearsals took place online via Zoom, and singers came prepared with their music, to put their practice to work in the in-person rehearsals, in preparation for the end-of-semester, recorded performances. Other choral groups, like the Westside Choir, practiced entirely remotely, using self-recorded video and recording software that was then layered by director Jussi Doherty to create the synchronous sound of one group singing together.

“We’ve learned so many skills we never had before, learned how to isolate and remember who we are, and learned how to cope with electronics in order to make music,” said Cheryl Anderson, Cabrillo Director of Choral and Vocal Studies. “Our department has been just fantastic about making this happen to support all the music programs. Everyone is working very hard for the good of the art.”

The show must go on, and it has!
  • Catch recorded concerts all of this week
    Featuring: Cabrillo Cantiamo!, Chorale, Jazz Singers, Westside Choir, and Symphonic Chorus. All recorded concerts can be viewed from the Cabrillo VAPA website, at: www.cabrillovapa.com.

All total, the Cabrillo VAPA Division is presenting a total of 20 recorded, virtual performances online at cabrillovapa.com.