Dancing at home (but not alone)… setting yourself up for success!

When Covid hit and stay at home orders began, the dance community quickly worked to introduce virtual options to continuing dance classes from the safety of your own home. If you would have asked me years ago if I ever thought I would become an experienced ‘zoom’ dance teacher… I would have thought you were crazy! However, teachers everywhere have adapted and have learned a whole new skill set with teaching virtually.

Let’s face it… virtual dancing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Many studios are doing a hybrid of both in-person classes AND virtual classes simultaneously in order to give opportunities to everyone who wants to dance. It’s an option for when there is a limit for how many in-person dancers can be in a class, for when people choose to stay at home as well as for those that have underlying health concerns.

Why not wait until we are through Covid to come back to dance or to try dance? Great question!

Dance provides an emotional outlet and offers a fun way to exercise. With many sports and activities being cancelled, dance is an excellent option that helps with coordination, musicality, work ethic, goal setting and expressiveness. If you are not able to be in-person for class, virtual (zoom) dance classes are still great options to learn something new or to continue your training. Although nothing can completely replace the feeling of an in-person class, virtual classes keep you dancing with others, maintains a social connection with your teacher(s), becomes a way to receive encouragement and/or feedback from the instructor and to also be able to ask questions.

So now that we, as teachers, have learned SO much about virtual classes. Let’s go through some ways that you can set yourself (or your dancer) up for success at home for your virtual dance classes:

  • Settings for Zoom

-Laptops and Tablets/phones have different options, you have more zoom setting options with your laptop

-For young dancers, parents should change the name to the dancer’s name (you can do this at the top right of your video with the drop down tools available in the three dots)

- Sound settings for laptops are available next to the microphone icon. Choose Advanced> Change the first two options of ‘Suppress noise’ to Disable> Leave the echo option on Auto (You can also change the input/output volume of your speakers and microphones here too

- The teacher will usually spotlight their video so that you see their screen as the largest option BUT if not, you can choose to pin a video to make it larger on your own (look for the three dots again)

-If you are on a tablet or phone, you will need to download the app in order to login to a meeting

  • Create a designated space

-Not everyone has a lot of space to designate for dancing at home and that’s OK! However, let’s get creative and try to make the best of your specific situation. Clear a space free of furniture that is too close or any objects that you might accidentally bump. Protect yourself as well as Grandmother’s antique vaseJ

-Aim to find a space with little distractions: TV’s, other devices, toys (for young dancers), family members, etc… Also be mindful of your pets being around for the best interest of both them and the dancer

- Take note of the floor that you are dancing on; if you are on a kitchen floor be careful what shoes you wear so that it’s not too slippery, if you are on carpet be careful not to turn in sneakers as it can create stress on your knee joints and if you are in the garage be careful not to jump too much as it might be too harsh on your joints

- If you are taking a tap class, invest in an inexpensive, at least 4ft X 4ft think plywood to dance on. Put a yoga mat under to prevent it from sliding around while you are tapping on it.

-Having a mirror for older dancers to see their alignment has been helpful for many

- In your space, set the laptop on something other than the floor as you don’t want to be looking down the whole time. Some have had a lot of success putting the zoom screen onto their TV screen through apple TV or other options.

-Lastly, arrange yourself and the video camera so that there is a good view of you… hopefully the full body view. This will enable your teacher to do their job in the best possible way for you.

  • Having the right mindset

-Get yourself ready and prepare yourself the way you would for an in-person dance class

-Have a healthy snack beforehand to make sure that you have enough energy

-Dress the part, wear your dance clothes, get your dance shoes ready, put your hair up for your ballet class. This helps to mentally prepare you for the class that you are about to take

-Be on time! Log in early to help trouble shoot any sound/video issues ahead of time

-Keep your microphone muted unless you are asked to unmute, this is the same as being quiet in class unless asked to speak

-Keep your video on as much as possible. The teacher wants to see and help you. It’s always a good idea to let your teacher know why your video is off so that they know that you are still there and participating (If you have anxiety with the teacher ‘spotlighting’ you as an example, just let them know respectfully at the beginning of the class via the chat feature)

-Be present just like you would in a regular class. Nod head and give thumbs up to acknowledge what the teacher is asking. Keep eye contact with the teacher when they are talking and sharing their knowledge with you

-Watch other dancers when you get a chance. This a beautiful part of our art form when we can be inspired by other dancers and find motivation by seeing others dancing

-Imagine that you are in a dance room and that you are giving the same amount of energy and focus as you would in-person

  • Parental help

-Overall, we hope parents are being a part of helping their children creating a good space and logging in on time

-Parents of young dancers, after you help them log in, please stick close by for at least the first part of the class just in case there are any technical issues to help them troubleshoot

-After the class is running smoothly, we know you want to take a break (you deserve it!) but continuing to stick close by allows them to know that there is still some supervision AND it allows you to observe the teacher to see how hard they are working to teach and connect with your dancer

-If your dancer is a little older, age 7-14+, maybe still check in on them every once in a while. Peak around the corner to make sure they aren’t distracted, they aren’t having any technical issues AND are not turning their camera off in order to just hang out and relax:)

-There could be more specific problems that you may have to help with such as cameras not working on the laptop or weak internet issues. The sooner you can get the camera fixed or get a new external/USB camera, the better. The sooner you can check on internet issues and possibly upgrade for your household, the better. From experience, these frustrations that are out of their control have proven detrimental to them participating positively with virtual classes

-Lastly, parents we appreciate your support of the virtual options.The teachers have worked hard learning this new skill set in order to keep sharing their passion with your children but also to keep employed and working hard to provide for their own families.Any support or appreciation of them going over and beyond for your child(ren) truly goes a long way!

I hope you found this list helpful!On behalf of the dance community, we all believe so strongly in the power of dance as a positive, healthy self-expression.We want to continue to provide options for ALL to dance; whether you are trying it for the first time or continuing your training.Dancing in your home, but not alone, gives the student many benefits but also helps to support our art form as well as teachers and local dance studios.

Thank you for your support and please KEEP DANCING EVERYWHERE!

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