Teaching Exceptional Virtual Dance Classes: 4 Tips
by Olivia Mode-Cater from DanceStudio-Pro
The pandemic has impacted many areas of our lives, and dance classes are no exception. Due to social distancing measures, your dance studio has likely adapted by offering virtual dance classes, ensuring that your students can still do what they love.
As a leader in the dance community, you might be wondering how you can better support your students through this difficult time and improve your virtual classes to imitate the in-person experience as much as possible.
We know that running a dance studio already has enough challenges, so trying to adapt your typical classes to a virtual format might seem like an impossible task. However, we’re here to help! That’s why we’ve put together this guide with four tips that can help you use your tech tools more effectively so that your virtual classes go off without a hitch.
To teach an excellent virtual dance class, you should:
- Plan a grounding activity.
- Do a run-through before class starts.
- Be mindful of your students’ spaces.
- Keep your website updated.
Part of what drew your dancers to your studio in the first place was the high quality of your instruction. And while the format of your classes may have changed, you can still offer exceptional classes and support to your students.
Additionally, even if you’ve begun to return to in-person activities, you may still choose to offer some virtual options to reach students who may live further away or who want to try out your studio. By resolving any issues now, you’ll ensure that your virtual classes will remain high-quality, whether they are your only class option or a unique add-on. Let’s get started!
1. Plan a grounding activity.
When students attended their dance classes in person, it was likely easier for them to focus. They could arrive at your studio, leave their personal lives aside, and put all of their energy into dance. However, when your dancers are logging in for a virtual class from a variety of locations, it might be more difficult to create this separation.
That’s why we recommend doing a brief grounding activity before class starts so that your dancers feel ready to rehearse. Here are some activities you can do to help your dancers feel more grounded before beginning your virtual class:
Meditation: Introducing a guided meditation practice into your dance classes might be just what your dancers need to connect with their inner selves. Not only can meditation help your dancers focus, but it can also help them overcome self-esteem issues, perfectionism, and anxiety. Even just ten minutes can make a huge difference!
Highs/Lows sharing: Before starting class, you could ask each dancer to share a high point and low point of their day. This can help to build a sense of community among your students even if they are physically separated.
Icebreaker questions: Sometimes your dancers just need to shake off the nerves, and a silly icebreaker question might just do the trick. For example, you could ask your students, “If you could be an animal, what animal would you be?” These questions can help your students get their creative juices flowing so they’re ready for class.
These grounding activities can help get your dancers in the right mindset to focus on class. Plus, giving your dancers a break before jumping into their next activity can improve their mental health, ensure that they are enjoying all of the positive effects of dance, and help them maintain the necessary stamina for virtual learning.
2. Do a run-through before class.
As a dance studio owner, you know that sometimes things just go awry. With virtual classes, this possibility is even more probable than if you were in the studio.
Because your virtual dance class relies on technology, you want to ensure that everything is working properly before class starts. This way, you can resolve any technical issues without cutting into your dancers’ class time. During your run-through, you should test:
Audio: Prior to dance class, test your audio to ensure that everyone logging in can hear you. Wear a microphone during classes so that your dancers can hear you clearly, especially if you’ll be demonstrating choreography yourself further away from your computer. When your students log on, remind them to double check their volumes so that they can hear you and you can hear them.
Video: Demonstrating choreography won’t accomplish much if your dancers can’t see you! Double check that your video is on and that everyone on the other side can see what you’re doing. For your dance classes, consider setting up two or more cameras so that your students can see you from multiple angles. However, make sure that only one of your cameras is unmuted!
Transitions: If you’ll be providing some tips or reviewing a performance with a presentation, do a run-through of the transitions to make sure that everyone at home can easily follow what you’re speaking about.
Typically, you can host your dance classes on a video platform like Zoom, which should have all the capabilities you need. However, you could also try to live-stream your dance classes to reach more people or to promote your studio on social media. This OneCause guide to live-streaming can help you get started!
3. Be mindful of your students’ spaces.
With your students logging on virtually, they don’t have much control over their environments and whether or not they’re fit for dance practice. Perhaps they don’t have much space, a nosy sibling, or a poor internet connection. Whatever the case, there are ways that you can mitigate these obstacles so that students feel comfortable and to ensure you’re managing your studio with every student in mind.
For one, if you have any required materials, such as certain dance footwear, shoes or a foam roller, make it as easy as possible for students to acquire them. For instance, you could offer to order them in bulk for students who need the materials.
Additionally, if a student has a less-than-ideal environment, you can give them the option to turn their cameras off. To make sure they’re performing the movements correctly, you could encourage them to stay on after the other students have left so that you can watch them. This will still allow your students to practice without having to feel embarrassed by a lack of space or picture-perfect background.
Leading your virtual classes with this level of compassion can help you to build better connections with your dancers. They will appreciate your flexibility and mindfulness of their varying situations. After all, the only thing that matters is that your students have the chance to dance!
4. Keep your website updated.
If your website wasn’t a major part of your studio’s communications before virtual classes, then you might need to make some adjustments. Because you won’t be seeing students as regularly around the studio, you’ll need a central hub to put all relevant information about upcoming classes, competition schedules, and more so that they are easily accessible to everyone. Plus, consolidating everything in one place can save you time, as you won’t need to answer the same questions over and over.
For virtual classes, you should include the following information on your website:
Class schedule: It’s easy for the times and dates of classes to slip your dancers’ minds. Make sure that you have a clear calendar featured prominently on your website so that dancers know exactly when they should log on for class.
Instructions to log on: Because dancers won’t just be driving up to your studio, they might need some extra instructions to know how to log on. Provide straightforward instructions on your website so that there’s no ambiguity when students try to log on to your video or class platform.
Required materials: If you want your students to be prepared, you need to tell them what they need! Include a list of required materials on your calendar so that students know what they need for every class. Doing this will help you avoid interruptions, as students will be less likely to get up in the middle of class to run off and get the materials they need.
Additionally, using your website to advertise online is a great way to encourage new students to join. This AccuData guide to digital marketing highlights the importance of a branded and well-designed website to generate interest in your business. Don’t forget to highlight your virtual classes as great options for first-time visitors!
Just because your dance studio classes have moved online doesn’t mean that they can’t still be great. With these tips, you can use your technology to its fullest potential, all while delivering compassionate and inspiring guidance to each and every one of your students.
About the Author: Olivia Mode-Cater
Olivia Mode-Cater is an industry leader in dance education and dance entrepreneurship, having presented on these topics on a national and international level. Olivia’s work draws on her experiences as a veteran dance educator in all teaching settings: higher education, PK-12 schools, and studios. Olivia proudly joined the DanceStudio-Pro team in 2021 as the Sr. Marketing Manager.