Issue #1 | May 7, 2020
In 2013 Joan Walton attended The Choral Project’s Winter’s Gifts :: Joy concert, and she was hooked. Soon thereafter, she joined The Choral Project’s Board of Directors.
Joan is a longtime Bay Area resident. She received a Master’s degree in dance education from Stanford University. Joan teaches at San José State University and the College of San Mateo, and she’s a choreographer who teaches dance classes at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and at a studio in Palo Alto.
Like so many teachers who can’t meet with students during the COVID-19 quarantine, Joan has been working with students virtually. She took time out of her busy schedule to connect with our Marketing Director, Wilson Alexander Aguilar. Read on to learn a bit about what she is doing to stay motivated and have a little fun.
What is the most memorable piece you have performed with The Choral Project, and why?
The only piece I’ve performed thus far is signing (American Sign Language) the beautiful “Somewhere” from Bernstein’s West Side Story. The poignant message in the lyrics is enhanced by this elegant language, and I can feel the emotion-backed singing behind me, which adds to the joy of performing it.
Why did you learn American Sign Language?
I was a speech and hearing major for one of my four majors in undergrad. (And yes, it took me a while to finally graduate!) During this time, I was also choreographing show choirs. I wanted to use this elegant language as part of the choreography for the ballads my choirs were singing and ended up signing them myself with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. When I mentioned my background and history signing to Daniel at one of our board meetings, he thought it was wonderful, so we devised a way to include it in “Somewhere,” and we’ve done it ever since. It’s been a pleasure going back to this part of my past life.
What is the last concert or performance you saw prior to sheltering in place?
I was teaching a Vintage Dance Workshop in Berea, Kentucky in early March, and one of the events was a Vintage Dance Ball. I was DJing, so had plenty of time to watch and enjoy the costumed dancers flying about, enjoying themselves, and in a way performing and entertaining onlookers. One of the joys of being a dance teacher is that not only do I get to dance every week, but I get to SEE dancers every week happily moving together in time.
Have you enjoyed a work of art (concert, performance, exhibit) as you have physically distanced these past two months that you may not have otherwise discovered?
Yes! I watched an online performance of the comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, from the Royal National Theatre in London. And even though I had seen that show before, I was startled to find how much more I liked it the second time, and on a screen! Usually screens take a distant backseat to live performances with me, so this was revealing.
What cultural event, if any, are you most looking forward to attending when this is all over?
I really miss live theater, especially musical theater. I have two family members in the current New York City cast of the musical Come From Away, and I very much want to see them perform it again, as it is a family first to have two Waltons in one Broadway show.
What are you doing creatively to stay sane and motivated?
I have become a Zoom master, remotely teaching tap dance every week. Since all of my classes are now online, including swing dance and social dance, I am challenged to find new ways to be creative to keep my students engaged. Additionally, I take time every day to do some kind of physical workout, even if it’s just getting 10,000 steps on my Fitbit. Finally, hosting Zoom Happy Hours with friends near and far has been a blast! Why didn’t I do this before?
And of course, my amazing senior cat Lou Lou keeps me sane by making me laugh every single day in this new normal.
Photos were taken Tuesday, May 4, 2020 by The Choral Project Board Member, Nada Marriott, who observed all rules of social distancing using a long-distance camera lens. All photos © 2020 Nada Marriott.