The dance industry has experienced some drastic changes during these months. It amazes me to see how quickly and seemingly easily it has continued to adapt and prosper. That being said, I too, have adapted to this new norm of online dance/technique training… it hasn’t been easy.
Here are some tips and methods I have learned (and continue to learn) along the way that have helped me and my dance professors throughout this semester.
1. Be On Time: This still helps me to stay disciplined and to prepare still for any movement/dance class. I have time to setup my devices and settle down before class starts. Try not to take advantage of having Zoom/remote classes and think you can log-on last minute. Being on time and even 5-10 minutes early and waiting has helped me to remain disciplined as a dancer and as a student and is just respectful towards any teacher or professor.
2. Understand the room the class is being held in. This is another thing that helps with being early, you are able to make mental notes about the room and translate it into the room or space you are dancing in. Having those mental notes helps me to process the movement in class easier and a bit clearer.
3. Utilize chats. This has become great for me as a remote student because for my dance classes there is usually an online group that rotates every other day being in the studio. This online group gives me feedback and clarifies things for me and honestly helps me so much when my professors can’t see everything that I am doing.
4. Record classes. This helps on both ends. If you are in a college or high school setting this helps both the teachers and yourself (students) to go back to parts of class and analyze movements or get combinations down, as well as for teachers to go back and watch students who are participating remotely. Sending in videos of myself after class has also been effective as I am able to directly communicate and receive feedback from my professors. Although the feedback may not be during the class time and is usually after because it’s through email, it still helps me to prepare and practice for my next class.
5. Observe. I never thought how actually spending time to observe other dancers helps me too. I am able to give them constructive feedback as well as notice things that I liked and I think about how I can implement similar movements in my body while I dance as well. Observing has helped me to stay motivated as well as to calm my brain because it is so easy for me to get frustrated in a remote dance class. I am able to pause, process, think, and execute.
6. Communicate with your teachers. This is the most important thing that has helped me. Don’t ever feel like you are nagging them- constant communication is important, and your teachers would like you to benefit from their classes just as people who are are taking it in-person. It takes so much adjusting and accommodating, but it is do-able. Make sure to tell them what works or what doesn’t work for you, and what you think you can both improve on and do to make it a better experience. It is a continual process learning and improving. There are moments when I felt like I kept back-tracking with my skills and technique, but one of my professors reassured me and said that I wasn’t. From what he has watched me submit as well as my attitude for class each day- it has truly helped. Though I may not feel it now, I know I am improving bit by bit in other ways.
7. Don’t get stuck behind the camera. This last one is very important too and was brought to my attention from a good friend of mine. Setting up the camera on my computer for class has definitely stuck me in a ‘zone’ thinking I must only look at the camera, face the camera, etc. But that shouldn’t be the case because I am restricting my body from truly letting go, moving freely, etc. There is that little voice in my head that is keeping me kind of stuck. My goal for the next half of the semester is to pretend like the camera is not there… just move and fully absorb the class even if I am not picking up choreography fully- it’s okay. Dance is expressive and does not have to be perfect- especially when you are in a class to learn!
It’s easy to put pressure on yourself during the semester, even more now if you are not physically dancing with others. But, you already took the first step to simply take online dance classes which is risky (and very brave) in itself. Now it’s up to you to follow through with those steps and see where it takes you! It is a new & challenging journey, but I have full confidence and hope in all of you who chose to follow this remote path!