By Cariba Heine

We’re extremely lucky to be living in a time where through all of the disruption that the coronavirus has imposed on us, we can still offer classes to our students. A lot of work goes into designing these classes as there is a certain kind of ‘flow’ in a physical class that affords an amount of flexibility to what happens. Online classes don’t allow teachers that flexibility. However, one plus of halting physical classes has been the creation of a LOT of free online classes from teachers all over the world. You could do a class virtually every hour of every day with the amount of free classes being offered right now. This list is largely looking at this new-norm online class culture but I’ve taken regular classes within a studio into account as well.

The Pros:

1. The Luxury Of Self-Educating

The extra time and energy thanks to quarantine means that kids can go on tangents and seek to learn things, routines, styles etc. that they are personally and currently interested in which couples with:

2. Access To Range-

With all of the free offerings right now, kids can ‘take classes’ with choreographers & teachers on the other side of the world they might not normally have had access to. This goes for styles they wouldn’t normally have access to, too.

3. An Opportunity For Attention To Detail

This is a wonderful time for us all to go back to basics and really look at our own personal progress. This is another facet of taking this pause as an opportunity to turn inwards a little bit. Certainly when I teach, I try to explain mechanically and theoretically what an issue with technique is and what we’re trying to do to fix it in an attempt to get my students to be as self-sufficient as possible. Specific issues that can be hard to work into the speed of a class and need some mindful re-training can move to the forefront of focus. It really allows the idea of improving on yester-you for today-you to be practiced.

4. Socialising

Seeing their friends even as a box on a zoom screen means kids get to see their dance friends and have a taste of old normality.

5. A Boost To Independence

Kids that are more likely to follow along in class will have that immediate realization that no one is directly standing in front of them and that they need to use their own memorys when running exercises and routines.

6. Time & Space For Creativity

I foresee a lot of creativity being born from kids having time and their own space to ‘play’. Who knows what will come of this time and the seeds that have been planted..

7. Learning To Learn From Home

Working and learning from home are, in themselves, skills that have needed to be learnt (and quickly!). My opinion is that they’re very useful skills and will become larger & larger parts of life past covid-19.

8. Gratitude For Specialized Learning Spaces

Even I have found myself itching to get back into a beautiful purpose-built studio that gives me more than a step-ball-change in length and a small fouette in circumference in space. I miss the bouncy floors, equipment and the heavy-duty sound systems. I just love a studio and from what I’ve seen and read, we’re all feeling some delayed appreciation for what we had.

9. Exercise & A Reason To Get Up

Enough said.

The Cons:

1. Injuries

Hoo boy. The hazards of dancing in the living room, fan-kicking coffee tables, jumping on un-sprung floors and turning on uneven surfaces. Not to mention trying fun new things/tricks unsupervised. I foresee a lot of isolation-themed injuries cropping up which is all the more reason to apply the same safety-based rules that are enforced in the studio.

2. Bad habits

You can’t beat the hands–on, immediate feedback of being in class and regular teachers who are working with students to un-do old bad habits and stop new bad habits from forming in the first place. There is going to be a degree of un-learning that will have to be done when we finally get back into class.

3. Un-structured Learning

Each studio has their own structure that their students move through. Teachers have class plans that they teach from to make sure that every element of that style is covered. Unless you’re doing a course that is specifically structured, the learning without week-to-week planning could allow holes in technique and areas of learning. Additionally, studio owners that take a specific interest in mentoring and guiding students aren’t able to have an as hands-on effect when the studio is operating outside of their premises. This guidance can be priceless.

4. Social Distancings Effect On Communication

We’re all trying really hard to keep up in the flux of everything going on and changing constantly right now. Communication is as hard and simultaneously as important as it’s ever going to be for every one on every level in every facet of life. I’d really recommend that parents be vigilant about keeping in touch with their studio principals, particularly around any issues with online classes. We’re all going to need to amp up our communication to navigate our return to the studio.

5. Socialising

We all miss our friends. And hugs. Not to mention the teamwork of things like partner-work. Here’s to the day we all get to run back and spread ourselves out in a studio.