A Dancer’s Digital Reality
Nicole Decsey on taking online dance classes in this "digital reality." Make sure you read to the end for a list of some of her favourites!
Normal is whatever you want it to be. It’s constantly changing based on your surroundings, and recently, the digital world has become our new surroundings. Virtual dance classes have become the new normal, performances and rehearsals are shifting to online platforms. It’s a Brave New World.
If you had told me in February that I would be taking and teaching online dance classes, I probably would have laughed in your face. But normal changes. There are so many different ways to take online dance classes right now and it’s important to figure out what works for you.
On Camera or Off Camera?
Dancing on camera and looking through a tiny screen to see the teacher is a big adjustment to make. Luckily, there are many different platforms to choose from as you are making this transition. Digital classes are offered on Facebook, Instagram Live, IGTV, and Zoom, as well as on company websites such as Great Moving Dancers (GMD) and the Toronto Community LoveIn. The distinct difference between all of these digital platforms is whether or not the participants can be seen by the instructors and other students.
Why I Don’t Choose Zoom
Personally, I prefer when I am not seen as a participant. Don’t get me wrong, I love dancing with a group of people and sharing energy in the space, but it’s not the same online. So, when I am taking an online class I usually stay away from Zoom and mostly stick to Instagram Live and YouTube classes where I’m not seen through my crappy computer camera. The best part about these options is that once the classes are uploaded, I can take them whenever and wherever I want. I can retake a class if I really like it and I don’t have to feel self-conscious about my space. I don’t have a big house, I don’t have Marley floors, I don’t have great lighting. My room is wall to wall carpets, and I don’t have the privacy I want for a dance class anywhere else. It’s simple, taking a class where no one can see me is the real-life scenario of dancing like no one is watching. Then, when my space is too small for certain aspects of class, I can adjust, change what I need to and be okay with what I am doing without any fear of judgement or comparison. When you don’t have the space for it, Zoom classes can feel frustrating and embarrassing. Why stress when there are other options?
Don’t Be Ashamed
Right now, we are all still struggling with the fact that we can’t be in the studio as much, exchanging energy and sweating together. Everyone is responding to these weird times differently and it is important to remember that. Maybe you love taking digital classes and that is fantastic, or maybe you hate them and that is okay too. Mental health is just as important as physical training. Don’t focus on one while neglecting the other. Find the balance.
What I Did That Wasn’t Dance
With the frustrations of not having a proper dance space, it is important to try and find other creative avenues for inspiration and motivation. I have found writing to be a terrific creative outlet. Word vomit is great, getting all of your thoughts down onto a piece of paper whatever they may be and seeing what comes out of it is surprisingly liberating. Maybe you have a poem, maybe you have song lyrics, or maybe it’s just gibberish, but no matter what it is, it’s creative and it’s you. When it feels like I’ve wandered into a creative void, I let my mind find other means of inspiration which have started to come in the form of writing short stories. So, wherever your mind roams creatively, let it happen don’t fight it. Recently, I have also begun to train in kick boxing. What I have wanted more than anything during this pandemic is to get outside. What better way to get some fresh air and some exercise, than to put on boxing gloves and a mouth guard and punch your brother?
Let’s take advantage of the time we have right now to explore, create and just relax.
TRY SOME OF NICOLE'S FAVOURITE ONLINE CLASSES!
Check out this playlist from the Dutch National Ballet – there is a selection of barre and centre practices for all levels, plus tutorials of steps for beginners.
If you prefer Instagram, head to The National Ballet of Canada's IGTV for classes with industry all-stars such as Guillaume Côté, Heather Ogden, Sonia Rodriguez, Greta Hodgkinson, Tanya Howard and more.
For those who enjoy modern dance, Great Moving Dancers has uploaded classes to Vimeo with renowned teachers such as Darryl Tracy, Louis Laberge-Côté, Johanna Bergfelt and more. They also offer regular Zoom classes with rotating faculty.
Yoga With Adriene offers an asana for everything. Make sure you check out the video on the left for a practice designed specially for dancers! Awaken the Artist Within and Yoga for Creativity are also recommended.