In a single week, the world of Ballet turned upside down. While there were some programs ahead of the virtual curve (like CLI studios and Veyette Virtual Ballet School), most studios right now are struggling to keep up with the virtual demand. And while I don’t believe that virtual training can compare to time inside a studio, there is a lot of misguided assumptions happening around Ballet and virtual training. Because Virtual training has become the only source of training, dancers, and parents now thinking that they can virtually train with anyone around the US and that it is a cheaper, more affordable, more productive use of time… This is all sadly wrong. Nothing can compare to that one on one time and attention to detail inside a studio, but I’m not here to say that we should all stop training virtually, that would be impossible. What I am here to tell you, is how you can maximize your time and efforts while virtually training Ballet.
Before you log in to take a virtual class, make sure you are well prepared before the course starts. Have water nearby, stretch bands, or any other needed items nearby, so you don’t waste time running to your room, searching through your dance bag when a teacher wants you to use an object to enhance the digital learning experience.
Please make sure you have the appropriate tech and WiFi before you start a virtual class. For most students out there, you have had to makeshift a dance space and are doing well, but make sure your WiFi is on a 5G network and can stream. If you are not on a strong network, move the quality to a lower Frame Per Second rate.
For those of you who have had to make do with a dance space, just because you have wood floors in your house doesn’t mean you should be jumping on them. In fact, this is the time not to be jumping. You need to be smart and make sure that when all of this is over, your body is primed and ready to go and jump back into hardcore training. If your floors are not sprung or floating (which most floors in residential homes are not), then avoid jumping. I have seen a lot of kids jumping on tile, and that is just going to ruin your career in the long run, so don’t.
With digital classes consuming social media right now, it is hard to decide what is a good or bad digital class. That is something that you are going to have to decide on your own. While different teachers have different methods, if more than ten students are taking a Zoom class, the odds of the teacher actually seeing individual corrections is a lot lower than if you only had six screens going at a time. I have seen up to 60 kids in a zoom class, and literally, at that point, you might as well do a Livestream follow along.
Make sure you are paying your teacher, or if it is a free class, see if they are taking donations. A lot of dancers right now are being forced into teaching ballet because that is all they can do to make money from home. For most of these high profiled dancers, dancing is all they know, and they are struggling financially, as most ballet companies have been forced to close their entire season. Make sure you are doing your part, regardless of it being a free service or a free live stream, a lot of these artists are doing it in hopes to book private lessons or get donations to survive.
All of Ballet has slowed down. For a lot of you, you were training 18+ hours a week and preparing for major competitions. Now, you are lucky to clock in 5 hours, you don’t jump or turn anymore, and all of that hard work you prepared for, all of the time you spent this season, seems to be wasted and frivolous. But, just be patient. All of ballet has stopped. Everyone around the world is trying to figure out what is going to happen next, what summer courses will look like, and what the next step is going to be. You are not alone, everyone, teachers, students, professionals, costume makers, lighting designers, stagehands, everyone is wondering what is going to happen next.
Finally, virtual training, in my opinon, can not replace actual training. For those of you who are asking to now virtually train or have teachers live cast classes in, it is not a balanced way of teaching. It is not how ballet needs to be digested, to be learned, or to be experienced. But otherwise, this is a great temporary fix for the world of dance.