Online is Great but In Person is still Better
by Emily Bufferd
How is everyone doing? I know, for me, I go through no fewer than 20 different emotional states per day right now… I’m (hopefully) tucked safely away in my NYC apartment watching as we as a dance community try to make the best of what is going on, and figure out new ways to offer classes, inspiration, and what feels most important to me right now, positivity (when possible) to our students, and each other. More than ever before, we are utilizing our online abilities to still offer classes, and I think it’s important to dive into what all these generous offerings mean for our dancers.
The list of free online classes being taught by dear friends, colleagues, dance superstars, and Debbie Allen (yes, she gets her own category… she IS Debbie Allen) is overwhelming – I look every day at how many are being offered and am constantly reminded how generous artists truly are and in awe of the kind people we are surrounded with.
At any given hour, you could pick from what feels like an astronomical number of styles/teachers/time zones, and it’s incredible, but it’s also important to remember… no online class experience is ever a replacement for the in-person training we’ll be able to get back to when this passes, and also that no online class, as tailored as it may be, is the same as working with a teacher who knows you and trains you in real life.
From reading my posts, many of you already know that I feel very strongly about safety in dance. For me, this often means pushing dancers to an extent that I know is attainable, often outside of what feels comfortable, but not to a level they are not yet ready for. Online classes, for the most part, are "open level," and certainly anyone with access to Facebook or Instagram Live is able to take them, but many of them in their openness are truly geared for a more int/adv level dancer. This is by no means a judgment call on them (I am grateful they exist, I’ve been utilizing them just as much as anyone else), just an observation. Not every dancer taking these classes is equipped for the level they are being offered at.
Only an educator who works with a child regularly can truly know what that dancer should and should not be doing as far as class material is concerned. This is where it is so important that a child continues their training (even through Zoom, or another platform) with their studio, and not just rely on these online classes during this time. A teacher who knows you, what you can do, what you are working towards, and is invested in your training is priceless. Free online classes/tutorials/warm-ups/etc (as many as possible are being shared via Apolla!) are wonderful as a supplement, as inspiration, and as a means of staying connected to the outside world, but classes with your normal teacher should not be sidelined for them or take a backseat to them.