Dancers can’t stop moving; it’s in our blood. So when our studios close, we get resourceful and we dance anywhere we can, whether it be tapping on a piece of MDF, clearing out our lounge room or using the kitchen bench as a barre. This season of studio closures has been a challenge for dancers, but through the use of technology, these young talents have kept up their training and kept in touch with their dance community. So how have they embraced the online learning experience, and what are they most looking forward to as studios begin to reopen?
What have you enjoyed the most about training at home?
Diego Garcia Rendon, 15 years old
Patrick School of the Arts
“I have really liked the opportunity to study advanced choreography over and over again. Having online classes has been challenging, but it’s been amazing to have some online classes from overseas. And I’ve loved spending time with my family. Sometimes, we are having breakfast, lunch and dinner together! Normally, this isn’t possible because of everyone’s schedule.”
Eva Chapelle, 13 years old
“The best thing about training at home is how the whole dance industry adapted to this new learning by providing classes online, Zooms and tutorials. It’s also a time when you can work on yourself and come out of quarantine with new goals.”
Carlee Clements, 9 years old
May Downs Performing Arts and Dance Academy
“What I’ve enjoyed the most about training at home is practising at my own pace, setting and working toward individual goals. I have also enjoyed using my Dance Diary from Zaggonline to help keep me on track, and one of my beautiful friends, Daisy Allen, has inspired me by sending through videos with a strength and conditioning program especially for me, so that when dancing resumes, I will have maintained and improved my skills.”
Daisy Boo Allen, 13 years old
Jason Coleman’s Ministry of Dance
“What I have really loved about home training is being able to learn from choreographers in live online classes from all over the world. The highlight would have to have been a four-week Elite Workshop with Briar Nolet where I got to do not only amazing conditioning and choreography by one of my all-time idols but was also able to see all of my interstate dance friends every weekend. The Dream Dance Company had Dream Online featuring amazing choreographers that kept me training hard, challenged and inspired. These are dance experiences I will never forget. Another thing that I loved was that I got to spend more time with my family, hang out with my brother Ziggy, and not waste time in the car, which means more time to train and dance!”
Isabelle Bitsikas, 12 years old
TDC (The Dance Company)
“The thing I’ve enjoyed most about training at home during isolation is that there’s been so much available. The dance community really helped one another out by offering online classes. I have been taking regular classes with Briar Nolet, and this is just such an amazing experience. I’ve also taken other classes with international and Australian choreographers whom I wouldn’t have the opportunity to train with normally, and I’ve been assisting Rebecca Davies online. It’s been amazing to connect with dancers from all over the world.”
What has been the biggest challenge?
“The lack of space. I live in a very small apartment that isn’t suitable for dancing. I am very grateful and fortunate, because my parents were able to move around some furniture, and they even adapted the floor to a dance floor. However, there are other things that are impossible to change, like being together with other students in the same room. There is definitely another level of energy and vibe when you are dancing with other people. I really miss my mates and teachers.”
“One big thing I don’t enjoy about online training is not being able to cheer for your friends and support one another like you can in the studio.”
“I really don’t like having to be apart from my dance family. I love to dance anywhere, even by myself in my room, but it is far more enjoyable dancing with friends. I miss encouraging my friends to reach their goals and having them support me. I miss the energy and positivity from my dance teachers.”
“Besides obviously missing my dance school, which is basically my second home, the thing that I have enjoyed the least is feelings of extreme frustration at being confined to dance in a small space and not being able to dance big. I train in the backroom at home, and although we have cleared everything out, it is nothing like the feeling you get when you can completely let go in the studio or on stage.”
“My least favourite thing about home training is definitely the fact that I don’t have a huge space to dance in. My lounge room has basically become my studio, so unfortunately the rest of the family doesn’t get to spend much time there. Also, it is difficult to keep motivated at times. It’s great keeping fit and doing heaps of technique and conditioning, but my favourite thing to do is to run our routines. We have done them, but there’s nothing like being in the studio with your dance friends.”
How have you stayed connected with your dance friends while in isolation?
“I have been connected with my mates and teachers by different applications such as, email, Snapchat, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, TikTok and so on, but it is not the same. There is something especial about being around someone else.”
“We have stayed connected through Zoom classes, messages and FaceTime, but I just can’t wait to see them all when isolation is finished!”
“My dance school has had online classes and fun themes for lessons to help engage us. We’ve had online chats, sung songs together, dressed up and had fitness classes so we can stay in shape. My dance principals, Miss Renie, Mr Thomas and Miss Georgia, have gone above and beyond to be there for us. They have kept us all connected through technology, posted videos and set challenges.”
“I have managed to stay connected with my dance friends, not just in planned classes through the dance school and workshops but also through organising home training catch ups in the morning before online school starts. When I have had group privates with Dance Prescription or trained with Scimm Dance Company, I have organised to stay online and continue training with my friends and supporting one another.”
“I’ve tried to stay connected with my dance and school friends. We usually just chat either before or after a class and FaceTime one another. It’s always fun to Snapchat one another or just pick up the phone to say hi.”
What are you most looking forward to when your studio reopens?
“So many things come to my mind! When 2020 was starting, it was the beginning of a new era, and I was so excited about it. In January, I was dancing with The Dream Creative by the Dream Dance Company in Sydney, and it was the most incredible experience. Then, I was coming back at Patrick School of the Arts, totally motivated because of the 2020 projects. Suddenly, everything changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone took so many things for granted, such as freedom, personal training and space. It has been challenging for everybody! When my studio reopens, I am very much looking forward to dancing again with my mates and dance teachers, to continue with some projects, and try to enjoy everything, taking nothing for granted.”
“I am most looking forward to seeing my dance friends and teachers, and being able to support one another when dancing! I am also very excited to get back into routine and to dance again in an amazing atmosphere filled with amazing people!”
“I am most looking forward to seeing my May Downs Performing Arts and Dance friends again. I miss them so much! Dancing at home just doesn’t have the same dynamic atmosphere that my dance studio has. I just love being in the studio learning from my inspirational and talented teachers.”
“I am definitely looking forward to being face to face with my teachers and friends and seeing them not through a screen. There is nothing quite like ‘vibing’ off your friends in the studio. This feeling is irreplaceable and the best feeling ever. I miss this so much. Having your teachers mentor and correct you in person, in class, doesn’t compare to online.”
“I cannot wait for my dance studio to reopen. I have missed my teachers and friends so much. Online training has been great, but there’s nothing like being around your dance friends to feel encouraged and inspired to try your best. Also, my dance teacher who has taught me since I was two has just had a baby, so I can’t wait to meet him!”
By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.