Why Free Content is Important During this Time
by Emily Bufferd
Checking in – how are we doing? I know this time is proving very difficult for our community, and while I could not be prouder to see how we are joining forces to do as much as we can, I am also sad to see how much stress teachers/studio owners/dancers alike are facing. I know we’ll come out the other side of this stronger, but some days it is harder to see the light. With that said, I want to give a major shout-out to my colleagues and the studios I teach at who have continued to provide free training content for dancers during this unprecedented time. I am beyond proud to teach at Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, and The Joffrey School; all of whom have been providing free tutorials and classes offered by their esteemed faculties (I feel funny writing that, as I am on their faculties… but, my colleagues are highly esteemed, so it’s the truth!).
I took some heat when this crazy period began for offering my (nearly) full warm-up for free, but in candor, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, most of my livelihood comes from teaching dance, and yes, I too like many educators out there am finding this time difficult (financially, of course, as one by one my teaching jobs closed/canceled/postponed… also mentally, also emotionally), but what will not make it easier on me is knowing that I could have provided something to help someone else who is in the same place and chose not to. That is not who I am, that is not who we are as a community, and we have the beautiful opportunity right now to teach an entire generation of young dancers how much giving matters. We can still nurture technique and style through Zoom/IGTV/YouTube/Etc., and we can nurture character by example.
The free content being offered is a lifeline for many dancers right now, and I don’t just mean the professionals who are currently out of work, but also the younger dancers whose parents have been affected and who are not currently able to pay for them to continue their training. Wealth disparity is a hard subject in the first place, but during tough times, it should not be the reason that one dancer from a studio is able to take a class and another isn’t. We didn’t go into the arts for the money (I promise you, I didn’t, and I know you didn’t either), and as educators, even in our own hard moments, should make sure that we are taking care of our kids right now, all of our kids… not just the ones who can afford to pay us.