What a difference a year can make! If you would have asked the majority of dancers year ago if they had ever taken a class online, most probably would have said no. Fast forward to today and you would hear a very different story. So dancers; take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. EVERY dancer, whether 3 years old in their first year of dance, or a professional with years of experience, has taken virtual classes in the last year (and continues to take them). Then, if it is our reality; even for now, how can we get the most out of these classes?
Here are a few simple ways you can maximize your time online for yourself or if you're a parent, your dancer, and ensure you are continuing to get an amazing dance education.
1. Prepare Yourself:
You've all heard your dance teacher say this before. The more prepared you are for class the better you can learn. This goes for your virtual classes as well. Make sure you are dressed appropriately, have your water bottle and any other materials required for your class, and log on early enough that you have a minute to breathe and focus before class begins.
2. Prepare Your Space:
Teachers understand that not everyone has the space in their home to have a dedicated dance space - that's ok and your teacher will never fault you for this. What you can do though, is do the best you can with what you have. Clear your space of clutter and get rid of as many distractions as possible. You would never have your phone in the studio with you, so, as tempting as it is, leave it outside your dance space (or at least out of reach) for the duration of your class. Your teacher understands your limited space and can adapt for it but in this environment YOU are solely responsible for your focus. Take on this responsibility and wear it as a badge of honor - you are in more charge of your own learning than ever before and that is so powerful!
3. Routines Are Your Friend
In this world where our routines have been thrown out the window; take comfort in the fact that your dance class, your teachers and your studio are here to help you through it. As human beings we love routine. Do you have a routine that you do every morning? Before you go to bed? Do you have a routine that you do before your classes in-studio? Do you have one before you go on-stage? We're going to guess that you answered 'yes' to at least a couple of those. So, let's lean into that and set up a virtual pre-class routine. It will help you feel comfort in the unfamiliar and BONUS help you get into the right mindset to get the most out of your class.
4. Do A Control Inventory
So many things are out of our control right now. Allowing this feeling of a lack of control take over our lives can be overwhelming and contribute to negative feelings. In these times it can be helpful to take a inventory. Try making a list of all the things you can control as well as those you can't. Acknowledge the things you can't control as just that, things that you cannot change. Focus on the things you can control and making those things as ideal as possible for the duration of your class. This can be as simple as "I control that I showed up on time today" all the way to "I control the amount of effort that I put in".
5. Acknowledge your Mindset
Change is hard. It makes us feel uncomfortable. It makes us feel, for lack of a better word, icky (an emotion that you can't quite put your finger on but something just doesn't feel quite right). But when we are faced with change our mindset is one of the most powerful motivators (or demotivators) that we have. That doesn't mean that you only see butterflies and rainbows because every journey has it's ups and downs, but that you see the ups and celebrate them and see the downs and acknowledge them but make the conscious decision not to dwell there. You will have days where you might not want to click that "join meeting" button, but you probably had days where it took more effort to get your butt into the in-studio classroom as well. There are also great days. Days where you feel healthy from moving your body, you feel the connection to your dance family and you see the growth that all your teachers say they can see happening through this.
Bonus tip: Neither Rome nor the triple pirouette were built in a day. Practice makes perfect, both with dance technique and with the tips above. The more you practice these things the more they become second nature. And the more they become second nature, the more it feels comfortable and routine - maybe together we can describe and take the power away from that 'icky' feeling.
The way we dance has changed, at least for now, but probably forever (more about that later); but what hasn't is that we see you, we support you and we want to help you reach your goals. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and we know when you look back years later you will be proud of yourself, your accomplishments despite adversity; and ultimately, this part of your dance (and life) journey.