UT-Austin a cappella, dance organizations transition to online auditions, rehearsals

Andrew Zhang

Students in a cappella and dance performance organizations are singing and dancing through Zoom calls and prerecorded videos this fall.

Singing and dancing groups usually meet in person to rehearse together, but campus organizations have reworked their tryouts and rehearsals to fit the needs of their members. Some are maintaining team social events, while others are exploring new ways to showcase their performances.

Vanessa Sun, president of the a cappella group One Note Stand, said potential new members usually audition in person. Now, Sun said members send in a prerecorded song and attend callback auditions over Zoom.

“It’s definitely harder this year (to get to know potential new members),” said Sun, a marketing and Plan II junior. “On campus, we like to do little social events before callbacks to help auditioners with their singing and get to know them as people. It’s pretty different because we can’t see them in person.”   

Sun said One Note Stand probably won’t attend competitions this year since practicing singing and choreography online is difficult. As a result, the group’s rehearsals will be less intense and structured, but hopefully more social, Sun said.

Parvathy Vasudev, captain of the coed Bollywood fusion dance group UT Saaya, said the group will hold “office hours” instead of in-person rehearsal. The dancers will learn choreography on their own and join Zoom calls for more individual assistance, Vasudev said.


Vasudev said UT Saaya is experimenting with music videos, audio editing and TikTok to publicize the group’s dances since competitions have been canceled. Vasudev said they also hope to emphasize the familial culture of UT Saaya in the virtual environment.

“My biggest worry is trying to somehow create the same culture for the new dancers joining the team,” neuroscience junior Vasudev said. “I’m not sure how we can do social stuff. The best we can do is virtual game night and things like that, but I’m not sure how we can embrace the family (and) friend component that is so integral to Saaya.”

Katie Hollister, the music director of Fuse A Capella, said the group changed its auditions and rehearsals to be virtual and hopes to create a sense of community in the new setting.

“We can’t really sing in real time together (over Zoom), so we’re going to focus a lot this year on bonding, especially with the newbies,” music studies sophomore Hollister said. “We’re going to be learning all our music outside of rehearsals.”

Hollister said Fuse is exploring alternative rehearsal practices, such as splitting into breakout rooms by voice parts. She also said Fuse is going to hold workshops on solo performances and stage presence to prepare for when the group can get together in person again.

“We joined the group because it’s so special to (sing) with all your friends,” Hollister said. “We’re going to be able to see each other twice a week, and we’re still going to be singing — just not in person."