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Okay, I’ll be honest when I first went on furlough I panicked. How am I supposed to keep a routine? Continue developing? And stay physically and mentally well? It’s been a bit of trial and error but 7 weeks in and I think I’ve hacked what works for me and my desire to keep going, stay strong and develop during a very strange time.

I decided at the beginning of quarantine I was going to set myself a couple of goals that in turn would help me to keep in routine and stay driven to develop myself in an effort to loosen the panic, and give me a reason to wake up each morning. The goals I decided on were:

1. Obtain a good standard of fitness

2. Connect with others digitally

3. Learn/explore new skills

I admit they are quite broad. But for me this is the key as it keeps my options open, and won’t give me that dreaded sense of guilt if I don’t master how to speak French or play the drums by the end of quarantine (anything is possible though, right?).

So, what have I been doing? Here is a little insight into how I’ve been working towards my 3 goals.

Obtain fitness levels

Pre-Covid I was an avid early morning mover at the gym. I loved the way it woke me up before I got into a school or a studio and how I was able to concentrate on hitting those Personal Bests before getting to work and working on different goals. I loved the gym and I wasn’t sure how I'd replace my morning gym routine, but I’ve cracked it.

I’ve been doing morning workouts 5 days a week where I have been flexible in choosing from a range of my favourite YouTube workout videos and also creating my own workouts to my favourite musical soundtracks (Les Mis for a cool down obviously!). I have tried out a range of Yoga styles and techniques and worked so much of my body that I truly don’t think I’ve worked since university (woops)!

I’ve been dancing, A LOT! In fact, I’ve been dancing more than I have for a long time and finding my love for styles I haven’t graced my feet with for years! I’ve been hooked on Zoom classes, Instagram Lives and YouTube dance tutorials. Some of my favourites have been Graeme Pickering’s online Zoom theatre jazz and lyrical classes, Adam Scott’s online Instagram Live contemporary/ lyrical classes, Dane Bates contemporary Instagram Live classes, and UC Dance daily Zoom classes in a wide variety of styles and techniques including ballet, stretch and conditioning, pointe and pirouette.

Walking, cycling, and exploring Staffordshire wildlife! I’m pretty lucky to be currently living in the middle of nowhere surrounded by some of the best National Trust walking routes. Myself and my fiancé have been trying to make the most of our surroundings trying to explore different locations in our daily walks, runs and bike rides. We’ve explored in the morning, afternoons and evening and seen the beauty of outside wildlife and the world beyond our iPhone (I recommend a couple of hours digital detox, it’s a blessing)!

Stay connected with friends, family and other creatives

As a social person, there is nothing I enjoy more than dancing with others and spending time with family and friends.

I can confirm I have done my fair share of family and friend Zoom quiz nights and Facetimed more than I ever have to ensure that I can see my nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, mum, dad, grandma and friends. I feel so lucky to be in a digital world where it is possible to see my family and friends and stay safe during the pandemic!

I’ve been trying to post as much as possible on my dance Instagram account @dancingwithisobel which has sparked so many creative conversations with other artists and has helped me stay connected to the world of arts outside of my usual weekly dance classes, Déda email account and networking events. I do think the dance and arts community online have gone above and beyond when it comes to keeping each other motivated to learn, move, create, and discuss.

Myself and fellow Déda freelancing artist, Joanna Walker, have been truly hooked on what we have coined #SocialDis-Dancing. We’ve been learning choreography together via Zoom, Whatsapp and Instagram, making videos of us dancing separately and merging them together and generally making the most of dance and our friendship during this time. Jo has also been running free Zoom classes and launched ‘The Positivity Project 2020’ on Facebook to ensure she continues to socialise, keep herself and others physically and mentally well and continue to share her love of dance and choreography!

Learn and explore new skills

As a dancer I think sometimes it is presumed that you can do every dance style under the sun! It’s like assuming an artist who describes themselves as a painter can sketch, or an athlete who competes in running events can compete in javelin as it’s still a form of athletics.

I’ve been exploring different styles of dance, including Instagram Live tutorials and dance classes with Dianne Busswell learning the Cha Cha and learning new acrobatic skills via Youtube tutorials and workouts with the likes of Anna Mcnulty and Bendy Kate.

I’ve also re-kindled my love for vegan baking and cooking. It’s been great learning new recipes and it’s even better tasting them and sharing them with those around me (especially getting non vegans to fall in love with my homemade vegan chilli or chocolate orange flapjacks)! I try to experiment with the use of super foods (although let’s face it all foods do something super for us). I love the challenge of turning some of my fiancés favourite foods and treats vegan, or lowering the sugar content, to make them more beneficial to his body, mind and energy levels!

Podcasts! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love a podcast! I feel like I’m generally connecting with others whilst learning or exploring a range of topics whether that be nutrition with @rhitrition or @deliciouslyella or have eye-opening discussions with the likes of @whatwesaidpodcast (American duo who generally discuss just about anything, and I love it)!

Well, there it is: a short insight into what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks and generally what I hope to be doing until I return to my wonderful job and can see my family and friends!

Peace out for now,
Issy

Dance Development & Learning Coordinator

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