Our 2020 Lessons & Highlights
December 22, 2020
I think it is safe to say this year is one for the history books. A global pandemic, along with the momentum of social movements amongst other things, have forced us all to make changes, whether we were ready for them or not. We at the Gabriella Foundation are no exception to the impact of 2020. To wrap up this year, we’ll be taking a look at how The Gabriella Foundation has been able to continue our mission of providing transformative dance to students by focusing on these four values.
Almost a year of online dance classes, who would’ve thought? Dance schools and organizations around the world have had to figure how to continue holding their classes, rehearsals, auditions, etc. in a safe manner. The shutdowns and social distancing measures prompted by Covid-19 led TGF to immediately adapt. What began as Instagram live classes evolved to weekly Zoom classes. Thanks to our wonderful staff and families, we were able to still hold summer classes and successfully made it through our fall semester of 50+ weekly classes online. In addition to classes, even auditions for Everybody Dance! Company and Conservatory were held through Zoom. Revised and a little different than usual, students still got a sense of a true dance audition as highlighted in our How to Audition YouTube video. In classes, teachers have rehearsed, choreographed, and recorded dances on ZOOM to create a virtual end– of– semester showing in place of the in person opportunities, which have allowed families to witness what their dancers have learned. In addition to recorded performances, our annual Winter Raffle Pull Performance included live and pre-recorded performances on Zoom. While our fingers are crossed in hopes of returning to in– person operations in the near future, some procedures have changed for the better. Registration, usually held in person was completed online and will continue to be in the future.
Adapting is not always an easy process. Remote learning, teaching, and organizing can be extremely difficult. Space to dance is limited, there are constant internet connection and Wi-Fi issues, miscommunications due to the barrier of the screen, and mental health strains as a result of not being able to leave our homes and interact in the world the same way we could before. Despite the obstacles, all who are a part of the Everybody Dance! Family has persevered. Staff members have worked hard to organize and communicate the new procedures to ensure that this change was as smooth as possible for families. Our teachers still lead high-quality and transformative classes while finding ways to accommodate everyone’s different dance space and circumstances. Their creativity was pushed to the limits as they found ways to keep classes engaging, fun, and effective for student growth. Household items became props for class and choreography. The camera Webcams and computers were used in innovative ways to create dances for our annual Winter Raffle Fundraiser and Performance and end– of– semester showing. We learned what it means to truly show up for one another. Dancers attended class with a positive attitude, putting their best foot forward despite the less-than-ideal circumstances and hardships that came with this year.
Importance of Human Connection
In the midst of a time that brought isolation to many, dance was a way for everyone to still interact with one another, even though it was through a screen. Dance class is a way to fill the gaps in the student’s lives, giving them the space to see and interact with each other in the way that they could. For the in-school program students, dance also provided a time of physical exercise that could be lacking during quarantine. Teachers created a space to check-in with students and allow them to speak to one another. Many meaningful discussions surrounding both dance and personal life were held in class. Through movement and conversation, dance classes made quarantine feel a little less lonely. The Gabriella Foundation prioritizes providing support to students and families through dance class. Classes were not limited only to those enrolled for the season. Free Community Wellness dance classes were offered monthly, allowing the public to experience the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of dance. Aside from classes, our students were still able to make connections with professional dancers and other areas of the dance industry. A few students held interviews with professionals from the LA Dance Project, receiving helpful tips about auditions and learning their experiences as professional dancers. In addition, a few of our Conservatory 3 students had the opportunity to remotely compete at the California Dance Classics Competition, receiving exposure and feedback from more professionals in the industry.
The ability to capitalize on moments that don’t always seem desirable became a great learning experience. Through dance, we have been able to find happiness in moments where we are feeling down or helpless. Outside of class, students have brought laughter and smiles to our faces through weekly TikTok videos created by themselves. They have remained gracious, respecting one another and showing gratitude to teachers. As our students go on with their lives, not only will they always have dance as a powerful tool for bringing fulfillment and therapy, but they will be able to carry the treasure of knowing how to connect to joy when joy is not the first instinct.
Written by: Jordan Powell, Arts Education Intern at The Gabriella Foundation.