Q&A for dance teachers during lockdown
On our social media channels, we gave dance teachers the chance to ask questions to Head of Training & Access, Mark Annear and Teacher Training Manager, Karen Berry.
Below is the transcription of this Q&A session, which includes advice for ballet teachers on remote teaching, supporting your students and keeping up motivation during the coronavirus outbreak.
1. Pre-recorded or live classes – what’s best?
Karen Berry: Either are – choose depending on your situation. Live classes can provide immediate feedback and social contact. Recorded classes provide opportunities for essential repetition and learning at your own pace.
2. How do I adapt the structure of the class for online teaching?
KB: Offer a diverse selection of activities suited to age and ability and allow time for students to practice – don’t fill an hour long class with an hour of you talking!
3. What would you say is the optimum length of an online ballet class for primary school age children? (I have found they cannot concentrate for as long as they can in the studio)
KB: We would suggest around 30-45 minutes for this age group. This should be enough to make it beneficial and stimulating. For pre-recorded classes consider breaking this up into segments.
4. How can I best help my students learn during this period?
Mark Annear: Find out how your students are doing. Provide them with the skills to make them independent learners. This will be really beneficial in the future.
5. How do we motivate children to dance without making it a stressful routine at home?
KB: For pre-recorded classes, consider breaking classes into user friendly segments (10-15 minutes). Then families can pick and choose what to do when, fitting into their new schedules at home.
6. How to encourage our non competitive dancers to join in and continue to dance?
KB: Ensure that you provide a variety of different activities, including practical, contextual and creative tasks. Set goals for the near future, developing their intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivation.
7. The best way for us parents to make sure they are doing exercises correctly?
MA: The teacher would be the best person to ensure that this is happening, provided they have the technology to do it. Students self-monitoring skills should hopefully have been developed from a young age, helping them to ask for feedback when they need it.
8. Are pointe work and allegro exercises safe/necessary in lockdown?
MA: Apart from beginners, these will be safe if there is an appropriate surface and teacher guidance. Also, there probably won’t be room for any travelling steps so keep things on the spot.
9. Could you suggest some activities/exercises which we can explain vocally and visually to ensure young children are engaging the correct muscles for turnout?
MA: Use of imagery can stimulate the correct technical response. Students can imagine their favourite colour painted on the inside of their legs. As they turn-out their legs get them to bring the colour forward to show the audience.
10. I’m feeling overwhelmed – I’m not sure where to start – I don’t feel I have enough confidence to attempt online classes nor the knowledge of the technology to help me set up.
MA: Take it at your own pace, you could do a trial recorded or live lesson with friends and family. Also manage expectations, it doesn’t have to be a professional video.
11. Are there any recommendations to protect our dance schools that we should now consider implementing into our business models?
KB: Within your Terms and Conditions detail what you would do if this sort of situation was to happen again. For example, consider what you would offer if classes had to be cancelled for any reason in the future.
12. What other factors – apart from the teaching do I need to consider?
KB: Consider your insurance cover and appropriate licences eg PPL, PRS. Safeguarding is extremely important, particularly when working online.