by Aaron Ball, Chairman, President and CEO at Randall Designs, Inc.
Kelly L., Liza Barskaya, Contributors
NO STUDIOS? NO LESSONS? NO COMPETITIONS?
Dance studios have closed and classes and competitions have canceled. Isolation is real, and fear and anxiety lurk around the corner. The novel coronavirus and the disease it causes (COVID-19) is rapidly transforming our nation in unprecedented ways.
The good news is that many studios and dance instructors have migrated their lessons to online conferencing platforms, and online dance competitions are even being organized. In our debut blog post, we bring you fresh perspectives from a dance sport industry dancer and a dancer who also teaches ballet as they share their challenges and successes in having to quickly respond to the need to migrate lessons and competitions to online platforms in response to the current health crisis. We also include a living, online resource guide that will keep you dancing right where you are – in your own home!
Dancer & Student (St. Charles, IL)
Kelly is a dancer and student with Fred Astaire Dance Studios, St. Charles and a consultant for McDonald’s.
“As the news changed day by day and hour by hour, I was concerned about my own economic situation and how that would impact my family and my dancing. I'm privileged enough to have stable employment and continue to be able to contemplate maintaining a hobby, when so many people will be struggling to make ends meet. Some of those people that may struggle will be my teachers and studio - as their employment depends on in-person interaction. I'm worried for them and the industry as a whole.
But again, I'm lucky to have a proactive studio - they started online group classes and then online private lessons. It took a lot of willpower to get back into practicing after the studio closed, the kids started virtual schooling, and my job went full-time work from home. But I'm learning that there are some great benefits to online lessons, and the group classes offer that connection with people that can be sorely lacking during this shelter in place. I want to be dancing with my pro partner again, but at least this way I am really forced to focus on my own technique and the basic foundations of good ballroom dancing. I'm glad I can help keep my studio going and my teachers employed as well.”
Dancer & Ballet Teacher (Los Angeles)
Liza is a dancer with Benita Bike’s DanceArt Company and teaches ballet at Anna Cheselka Dance Center, Hama’s Dance Center and Gotta Dance Academy
“With the outbreak of Covid-19, I along with many others in my position were forced out of work due to the closure of gyms, fitness centers and performance venues. Although I understood the necessity of doing so - to encourage social distancing and create a means to control and contain the spread of the virus - it instilled a tremendous amount of fear in me as suddenly I was left without my livelihood.
To combat the fears and anxieties that I was facing, I did what I could to find ways to maintain my routine and, in turn, my overall mental, emotional and physical well-being during this scary time. Through social media, I began seeing dance companies and schools broadcasting performances, hosting open dance classes and creating community challenges to engage dancers in fun creative activities. I also began to see some of my friends and colleagues beginning to teach dance classes online which I began taking to maintain my shape, sense of grounding and to also offer them support as many of the teachers, like myself, also found themselves without work.
The following week, I began live-streaming my own ballet classes on YouTube where my regular students had access to their familiar teacher. I also had friends and fellow dancers take the classes that I offered, which I was told gave them comfort, a sense of routine and community. Within days I began receiving calls and emails from the directors of the schools where I worked and the dance company for which I perform, trying to find ways to keep their businesses alive and to support me and my fellow colleagues during this time. We discovered an app called Zoom which allows us to host virtual classes and see the students involved in the class, many of whom are isolated and were comforted by seeing their teachers and classmates faces and hearing their voices before beginning our pliés.
In tough times like these we are trying to find ways to keep what makes us most happy and grounded within our lives. For many of us we have dance, where we can move our bodies freely and stay in shape. No matter what happens we cannot lose our source of light and that is why I encourage everyone to keep dancing. Whether you are taking an online class or not, you can still dance at home. Wiggle your hips while you fold your laundry or make your bed, boogie from one room to the next or moonwalk through your kitchen to grab something yummy out of the fridge. Dance keeps our spirits up and we need that during uncertain times like these. You don’t need to be a professional dancer or have an audience to move your body. All you need is to light the fire that gets your bones moving! Whether it’s playing your favorite song while you’re alone in your living room or taking a virtual dance class, find ways to keep your body and your spirit alive and active. Find what brings you joy and trust that in times like these; you can find ways to allow it to remain an active presence within your life.”
For a Link to Liza’s Zoom Classes, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Liza’s YouTube Channel: Livestream Link (Monday’s at 12pm PST)
WHERE TO FIND ONLINE LESSONS
If you are dancing with a studio, start a discussion with the studio owner and your instructors. Chances are, they are working on solutions to keep you dancing at home. Additionally, there are many, many options for connecting with dance instructors all over the country. Here are just a few of them to help get you started:
Takelessons.com is one of the premiere marketplaces for online learning of any kind. There is a robust offering of dance teachers available on the platform – everything from Ballroom to Flamenco, to belly-dancing! The sight allows you to browse individual instructors based on your budget and availability.
Here’s How it Works: https://takelessons.com/students/how-it-works
FRED ASTAIRE DANCE STUDIOS
Fred Astaire Dance Studios has taken the lead in being among the first national dance studio franchise operations to migrate their initiatives to online platforms. Be sure to check out Tony Dovolani’s new online masterclass streaming March 31 at 7:00CST only available from Fred Astaire Dance Studios! 🔥HOT!🔥
In addition to online options for live dance instruction, there are many, many how-to videos on dance offered by various companies accross the web. Randall Designs recommends that you research these options carefully, especially before making a financial commitment to download a package or series of videos. Check out free videos on YouTube first! There are many! If you happen to have some favorites, please let us know about them and why you like them by sending us an email to email@example.com We will update our resource list regularly.
While we love seeing the many online videos available for “how to dance,” we throw our support behind the instructors and studios who are working around-the-clock to migrate their live instruction to real-time streaming platforms to keep you dancing at home.
If you are an instructor or studio who would like to be featured on our blog as a resource, please send your story and information to firstname.lastname@example.org
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