CCU theatre professor Robin Edwards-Russell goes viral on Tik Tok
Robin Edwards-Russell, an associate professor of theatre, went viral on Tik Tok for dancing; a story was released by University Communication around late August.
Russell’s daughter, Grainger, recorded a Tik Tok video of her mother dancing on Zoom with students on the first day of classes. Dance Day is a tradition where Russell gets her students to dance for an unspecified amount of time.
“There’s so many things that you could see in a person. The one thing that I see in somebody is, of course, their stamina. The other thing I look at is: ‘Are they capable of making big choices?’” said Russell.
In acting, Russell stated that actors [and actresses] love to make large choices and take a leap of faith. Dance Day allows Russell to observe students’ personalities as they endure this “mini-boot camp.” People dance in a way that shows their uniqueness through their movements. Russell’s idea for Dance Day was inspired by Polish theatrical director, Jerzy Grotowski.
“He would make his acting troupe run miles and miles and miles until exhaustion and then they would come in to start class. His whole principle was: Until you can get everything exhausted and all the masks come off, can real emotion come out,” said Russell.
CCU Associate Professor Ben Sota shared what his first thoughts were upon watching the Tik Tok video.
“I absolutely love Robin! I instantly shared the link a million times,” he said.
Russell and Sota have known and worked alongside each other in the Department of Theatre for seven years.
“She is the host of Coastal Today, and is an artist whose work transcends video and live performance. She wears her heart on her sleeve and is one of the best student advocates in the university,” Sota said.
“I would say it’s a great way for professors to get people involved and maybe get students out of their comfort zones, especially those who maybe have a harder time doing classes through the online setting,” United States Marine veteran and CCU senior, Devin McCullough, said.
McCullough believes that student engagement is the most important thing professors can do to ensure students fully understand the material.
Initially, Russell did not intend to host Dance Day over Zoom, since it was traditionally done face-to-face in a classroom. She called it a “happy accident.” With 15 minutes before class was supposed to start, she decided to just go ahead and have the students dance via Zoom.
When it comes to acting, Russell said, “you learn who you are and you learn about other people.”
In spring 2021, Russell will be teaching THEA*230 - Complete Stage Makeup, THEA*364 - Acting III Studio, and THEA*499 - Theater Capstone Project.