Keep Dancing Near & Far – Online Classes
June 5, 2020
This year marked The Gabriella Foundation’s 20th anniversary of providing transformative dance programs to thousands of Los Angeles youth. Like many others, our 2020 started off with a check-list of events and exciting plans for the new year – A Block Party in March, a Gala performance in May, and Student Showcases in the summer! While the unexpected changes of COVID-19 brought us challenges and caused us to shift our plans, we are so grateful and happy to share how we have pivoted through these past few months to continue offering 130 weekly classes, virtually!
When the quarantine first went into place, we offered Instagram Live classes twice daily to continue supporting our community. We knew that through uncertain times, consistency was important to create a sense of normalcy and routine, especially for our students. This was the easiest and quickest transition to keep our students, families, and Teaching Artists moving. With a different style of dance offered every day, our Teaching Artist team was excited to continue connecting with students to move their bodies. Although teaching online isn’t the ideal way to teach dance, it certainly was a better alternative to not dancing at all. We received several messages from students and parents thanking us for finding a way to bring some of our programs into their homes. We recorded our classes so those who couldn’t join in during class times could refer back to the 45-minute dance classes at their own convenience. While it was wonderful to read encouraging comments and see smiling emoticons pop-up during our daily Instagram classes, something was still missing.
Students and Teaching Artists alike craved an even more interactive learning experience. Since we still aren’t able to hold classes face-to-face yet, our ingenious community sought creative ways to cultivate more of a feeling of togetherness for our virtual classes. After doing research and testing, in mid-May, we shifted our class offerings from Instagram to ZOOM. The opportunity to utilize the more interactive ZOOM platform appealed perfectly to us as our students would be able to see and dance with their classmates in real-time. New formats and ways of teaching emerged for several of our Teaching Artists in terms of focusing on providing student leadership opportunities.
Artistic Director and Jazz Teaching Artist, Tina Banchero provided insight into how utilizing the spotlight feature on ZOOM:
“After I demonstrate a phrase of dance I am able to spotlight one of the students to lead while they all try the movement together. This gives the students a chance to follow along while allowing me to watch. I rotate student leadership throughout the class so everyone gets a turn. This gives the students a chance to challenge themselves and me the opportunity to provide feedback, praise, and corrections”.
Another one of our Teaching Artists, Alice Kim, who is also an alumna of our program, talks about how our ZOOM classes have been a valuable support system for our students during this pandemic, “I do believe having dance classes on Zoom has brought some semblance of normalcy in our community. Our EBD kids are showing up, working hard, and bringing out passion in their dancing. I’m so proud of them”.
Our talented team of diverse Teaching Artists from various dance backgrounds has such a plethora of knowledge, technique, and artistry, that moments to provide student leadership opportunities in class can sometimes get over-looked. The silver lining to our virtual classes is that, as Banchero states “spotlighting students provides a positive takeaway in a less than ideal situation”.
For more information on our online resources and our upcoming ZOOM Summer Session which will begin on June 22, 2020, please visit our website: https://www.everybodydance.org/