Dancing Over Zoom: How Does it Work?
As any performer knows, no matter what obstacle you may be facing, the show must go on. So when a global crisis forces a dancer's local studio to shut down, solutions are found. In this case, the solution involves, Zoom calls, home dance spaces, and the occasional surprise freeze frame. California Dance Arts has successfully been able to train our dancers over Zoom for nearly a year now and to mark the occasion we wanted to take a look back at what we have learned about remote teaching and how it has affected things such as class structure, student‐teacher connection, and most importantly, student progress.
Dance training, especially ballet, requires immense repetition and concentration. Each class follows a specific structure and format that takes the dancer from smaller, supported movements at the barre, to bigger and more dynamic steps in the center. The studio is a haven of focus and dedication. Once a dancer steps inside they leave all other distractions at the door. From the moment class begins, the student's job is to see, listen, perform, and improve.
Transferring this structure from the studio to the home was a bit tricky at first. There were issues with space, flooring and of course, internet connection. However, after a few location changes and some moved couches, each dancer was able to create their own dance space where they could leave distractions behind and fully enjoy class from the safety of their homes. From there, CDA's teachers focused on adjusting combinations to the limited square footage, without compromising on strengthening properties or technical focus.
What about student teacher connection? CDA has had a long standing philosophy of small class sizes in order to ensure that the instructor can devote more individualized attention to each participating student. Our small class sizes prevent students from developing poor habits, allows for greater understanding of the concepts and instructions and students have more fun! Transferring classes from the studio to Zoom has not stopped us from being able to deliver the same level of individualized service to each student. By only taking up to six students per class session we have been able to cater to each dancer's specific needs and maintain a stable flow of communication between students and teachers during class time.
One question we all had at the start of the transition to online formats, was that of progress. Can students really make progress when taking class online? The answer is Yes! Not only are students engaged in their classes, but we have seen real improvements from them across the spectrum form Pre‐Ballet to our Upper Division classes.
What about corrections? How can students apply corrections when the teacher is not physically there? This area has been handled using clear communication and supplementary exercises that encourage proper alignment. By keeping combinations simple and focused, lower levels have been able to strengthen and develop proper alignment, while upper levels have been able to apply what they already know while being given the opportunity to cross train with conditioning and floor barre classes.
We all miss being in the studio and look forward to the day when we can safely take class together again. Until that day comes though, CDA is dedicated to delivering the best online experience possible to all of our students. With established home dance spaces, tailored classes and clear communication to encourage progress and improvement we are confident that CDA dancers will emerge from this period confident and able.
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