Updated: May 16, 2020
Since the initial shut down of schools, businesses and our prized dance schools. Life has taken such a dramatic turn. Suddenly Dance teachers all over the world were in panic mode, thinking about how they could continue without a studio, without direct contact to students and how could they possibly keep afloat with no income and still paying outgoings.
Most moved onto online platforms and have been teaching this way for weeks, some studios have been this way for months. It has been a very trialling time for studio owners, some have had to close their doors and others are running at a loss since moving online, wondering about their future. There is always some problem, either with sound or internet services etc. Approximately 30-50% of students have continued learning through online classes. The others have chosen to wait until Isolation is over and classes can resume as per normal. What is the correct choice?
There is no answer; only time will tell, once we are given the go ahead to resume. Some students have thrived from learning online, some have found the socialisation they were missing from seeing their friends the most beneficial. Will these students be ahead of their dance class peers once we return to classes. Online classes are not great for everyone, some students require help and support and the teacher can only give them corrections through a screen but cannot physically correct them (which is exactly what dance teachers want to do). "Pointe that foot Sarah!!!! NO!! not that one!! the one that was in the air!! (ahh now its sickled!!) it's a teachers worst nightmare not being able to correct technical errors. You just want to reach through the screen and fix that foot.
Perhaps the students who have chosen not to move online may have progressed in other areas of their lives. Music, Art, outdoor sports or have had that extra time to bond with family members and be a kid for a change. Have they continued to practice their dancing? do they have pre-recorded videos to work with? have they even watched them?. Do they want to continue dance? and are they going to return? Maybe they don't miss classes as much as they thought they would. The problem I heard the most from parents prior to joining online classes is "I try to correct my child but they don't want to listen because i'm not a dance teacher." I have the same problem homeschooling!!
This new wave of teaching is something that not many had really considered prior to this pandemic. There were a few online schools specialising in delivering classes to students who were not in the vicinity of a dance school, but that was about it. Now a whole new world has opened up and the possibilities are endless. You can take classes with QLD Ballet, The Australian Ballet and famous choreographers from overseas. All this has been bought into our lounge rooms allowing us to have the opportunity to do classes that we could have only dreamed of. The amount of online courses provided for teachers that you once had to travel interstate to do or wait until the course is bought to your city is now all available online and the choices are incredible. Keeping up with your certifications and adding more resources to your studio has never been easier.
What will this mean for the future of dance? will online classes become the new big thing, will students continue taking these classes and drop off from studio classes? Or are we all just waiting to get back into the studio and pick up where we left off? I am certainly keen to see the smiling faces of my "kids" and to be able to give them a big hug and to have the social interaction of the "dance family". I need to correct all those pointed feet and postures. I am definitely a hands on teacher and I like to see what Im working with and how my skills can be beneficiary to students. Kind of like a good book, I prefer to have a book in my hands than to read off a screen; its just not the same! Online classes cant create the atmosphere of a performance. Theres a certain amount of excitement getting closer to concert time. The costumes, the stage, the routines and performing to an audience. None of these things can be recreated.
I do like the flexibility of online classes and the security of being in my own space (my lounge room). Not having sweaty people standing too close to me or someone hitting you when they turn or stepping on your feet. Maybe some classes will survive online and be beneficial to students or adults who don't want to attend a studio class or who feel awkward or embarrassed dancing in front of people for the first time.
Only time will tell. Either way I see a huge future in dance both in studio and online, creating more hard work than ever before and not getting paid a cent more. Lucky we love what we do.