My names Isobel Davis, I’m a Dance Development & Learning Coordinator and Academy manager at Déda. I’m fortunate to have the ongoing support of a team of creatives and the Arts Council England due to Déda’s NPO (National Portfolio Organisation) status. Alongside this, I’m also a freelance dance artist and have experienced the current environment’s effect on both roles. It’s sad (but inevitable) that the loss of contracts, project work and dance classes due to the coronavirus will affect the arts and the sustainability of the sector alike.
Will freelancers continue to dance? Will organisations be able to continue with forecasted work and employ the appropriate freelancers? Where will the arts sector be in 3 months’ time? This calls for action, and in a world fascinated by digitalising our society and social media I think the internet is a good place to start!
So how can we make dance accessible digitally? Just a few ideas have been shared on social media over the past few weeks and I’m hoping that the resources online will be used effectively so our sector can stay strong and dance artists can continue to share their love of dance. I’ve listed a couple of options for freelance dance artists and dance organisations that I’ve found particularly helpful, in terms of continuing to dance with a digital presence and also continuing to ignite our creativity, technique and passion during social distancing.
Advice for teachers, tutors, dance artists & freelancers (whatever your job title preference);
It really doesn’t matter what you teach, where you teach or who you teach. Here’s a couple of ways that you can carry on teaching, working and dancing during this time of dancing digitally.
What can you do as a teacher?
Online ‘live stream’ classes: I’m sure you’ve already investigated the world of digitalised teaching, I’m sure you have your opinions on whether this will work or not, but have you tried any of them? Yes, there are pros (chance to still earn an income and develop your dancers) and cons (less contact and hands on) but without trying you won’t know if it could be an interim solution to these difficult times. A couple to try include Zoom, where you can deliver and watch over 100 dancers take part in your classes at the same time. Using Zoom you can still provide provision to your students, which I hope would mean you will be able to continue teaching and running your business financially. You could try continuing to provide online sessions at the usual class times to ensure students don’t fall behind or out of routine. You can also use Facebook and Instagram live although unfortunately you can’t see your participants (unless they send you clips).
YouTube: Create a YouTube channel where you can share dance tasks, phrases and exercises with your students. This again enriches their provision so could also help you to keep developing your students and charging a reasonable fee for tuition. You can make YouTube channels private so only students who have paid can access and even ask for students to make YouTube responses to your video tasks!
Facebook groups: I’m sure your participants’ ‘Dance parents and carers’ are on Facebook and I’m pretty sure they have been messaging you since to find out how they can keep their children in top form (and busy) during our Stay at Home period. Facebook groups are a great way to keep your classes centralised and private (you have options to make this private). Yes, you could livestream through this or simply upload videos for participants to try when convenient. This keeps all dance info centralised to your Facebook page so that information can be shared across all who access Facebook.
Blogs: Continue to promote the work you’re doing, inspiring your students and others around you. Let’s face it, most of us became teachers so we can share our love of dance, so this is the perfect way
to do so in another creative form. Who knows, it might be a good chance to learn a new skill in the form of blog writing and help you to stay creative during this difficult time.
Resources: Create online resources, lesson plans, creative tasks or even training packs. These could be for your students who are paying a monthly/termly fee or maybe to other artists looking to use this time of social isolation to develop themselves. I’ve really appreciated seeing people share tasks over social media and asking others to upload their responses.
Podcasts: I admit, I am hooked on podcasts, I love them. I feel like I’m part of a conversation where I get involved and included without being physically in the same space as others. This is a great way to continue promoting and sharing your craft whilst engaging and enriching the lives of your audiences and participants. You could share your ideas moving forward or even open a conversation about an area of dance you are particularly interested in.
During this stressful, scary time, let’s all try to continue moving and grooving, which I hope will keep you smiling. Give digital dancing a go, keep the fire in your belly strong and the ideas in your brain thriving. Here’s to moving forward, not backwards and growing instead of falling. Let’s support each other and when the time comes, we can make our dancing comebacks better than ever before!
Peace out for now,