Posted on December 10, 2020
The year 2020 affected all aspects of our lives. The dance world is just beginning to overcome its shock and stress and slowly get back on its feet. Just like me. In March and April, all the dance studios in New York were shut down. Teachers like me were forced to find a new path of development. The first few online lessons were terrible, but, step by step, like many other teachers I developed a better approach to teaching online. After more than six months of working during the pandemic and, even preparing for dance competitions via Zoom, I’d like to share my system with you.
To start with, make sure to adequately assess your resources, which include a wide variety of tools and opportunities. These include a place to dance and train during lockdown (some are lucky to have a home studio, and some might live in studio flats); financial resources (the ability to pay for online lessons, workshops or training); fitness equipment (includes items as dumbbells, skipping ropes, horizontal bars and yoga mats).
When it comes to your condition, let’s assume that your coach can give an objective assessment of your condition, while your opinion might be more subjective. Such an assessment must consider: your body (i.e. your physical condition), your dancing (specific technical aspects) and, finally, your emotional condition.
First, you need to define your main dance goal. It depends on your aspirations, desires and capabilities, as well as your coach’s opinion. Most dancers choose performing and winning a large dance competition as their goal.
Second, it’s important to plan the steps you’re going to take to achieve this goal. Your coach can develop a plan based on their experience, while taking into consideration your resources and condition. It’s also necessary to come up with relevant milestones, such as having personal training sessions with your coach, participating in local competitions and taking online courses.
If resources are limited (for example, unavailability of a fitness coach), it’s possible to develop a combined plan involving several milestones that a dancer can meet independently, such as steadily adding minutes to your dance and decreasing the time of rest between dances. It’s also vital to remain a part of the dancing community during the pandemic and self-isolation, so include online lectures, workshops, and lessons in your plan.
Here’s an important tip. I always ask my students to write down their feelings, emotions, thoughts and desires after each training session. Start making notes on the outcome of your day. Find a suitable format, be it an online diary, a mobile application, or a good old-fashioned paper notebook and a pen.
Due to the pandemic, the biggest part of the training process becomes hidden from the coach, so open discussion is vital to make the right adjustments. This is why I always begin my online lessons with a discussion. For around ten minutes, my student and I talk about our feelings, emotions, health, trainings and diet. This type of communication allows me as a coach to preserve the relationship of trust with my individual students and dancing couples, which has a positive impact on both training and teaching. Good luck!
Pictured: Lilia Furman teaching in person before the pandemic. Photograph: Lilia Furman.