Virtual Dance Classes on Zoom

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(Credit: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Getty Images)

COVID-19 has put a pause on most activities we normally take for granted. Trips to the hair salon, school, after-school sports, and more. We have been doing dance for several years and have enjoyed our time participating in hours of dance every week. So when things began to shut down, we were anxious to hear whether our dance classes would continue. When we heard news that both our classes were continuing over zoom, it seemed a little weird at first but sooner than later, we continued our dance lessons as though nothing had come in the way at all!

Emma Barry ‘22, Step By Step Studio of Dance in Medway, MA

What I’ve been saying about online dance is “It’s better than nothing, but it’s just not the same.” Though this essentially sums up most normal experiences we’re collectively trying to recreate right now, I think it’s especially true of dance.  Dance, and especially competitive teams or groups that dance together, relies on community and a sense of togetherness.  A successful group of dancers is one that is not only in tune with the music but with one another, not only to logistially prevent crashes and mishaps but also for the energy of a room, motivation, and the emotions portrayed in a piece.  Grace Amlicke, a member of the class of ‘22 at Holliston High School and of my dance team at SBS in Medway, said, “It’s hard because dance is very much a group activity. You get energy from the people around you, so it’s a different experience dancing alone in a room looking at a screen.” Also, just from a physical standpoint, rehearsing group numbers is a lot different when you’re doing them by yourself.  We are still encouraged to smile and emote while dancing as it makes up a large part of competition scoring, but it can feel silly to do so when you’re alone, with no audience or teacher physically there with you. Other difficulties with online dance classes include missing friends from class (who we would normally see 9+ hours a week) and finding motivation to do the online classes, which usually start around 5-6 pm and can last until 9pm.  Nevertheless, I am extremely grateful that we are doing class online instead of stopping them entirely.  Not only is it important to keep in shape and keep up our technique, but many of us would be lost without dance as a source of consistency in our lives.  Dance is a year round sport, so we as dancers are used to being in the studio no matter what.  Getting to do what we love, even from home, can be a good release of energy and emotions.   

Spandana Vagwala ‘22, Indian Classical Dance 

I’ve loved any type of dancing for as long as I can remember. Joining indian classical dance classes was perfect for me. I was doing what I love and I found a new way to connect with my culture. Through my 8 years of dance, I was also able to find one of my best friends. Dance slowly became my second home. Furthermore, I was working towards one of the biggest benchmarks in my learning experience. In most forms of indian classical dance, dancers go through years of intense practice and routines until they’re ready to do a grandiose solo performance that typically lasts 2 hours. After 8 years, I began the preparation for this performance with my teacher beginning in August of 2019. My performance was set for early August of 2020 and I was practicing almost every day. It was difficult but I knew I was working towards something I would be really proud of. The spread of COVID-19 put most of the United States in lockdown, including my dance classes. My normal dance classes began to proceed on zoom on Friday nights and Sunday mornings. My individual classes with my dance teacher to prepare for the solo performance now take place on Wednesday and Friday mornings at 7am. When the classes first started, similar to Emma, it felt really odd to be expressive and dance in front of my laptop. My one-on-one classes were a little awkward in the beginning because it was just me and my dance teacher but I adapted to the new environment. To make myself feel more comfortable, I took the time to turn my basement into an at home “dance studio” The dance mirrors on my walls were soon complemented by plants, yoga mats, and a speaker. Although my performance is postponed until it is safe for public gatherings, I still continue to attend my dance classes 4 times a week. It’s hard to stay motivated during these times, mentally and physically, but dance gives me the opportunity to stay active and continue doing what I love at home.

If there’s something we’ve learned other than new dance routines in the past couple months of zoom dance classes, it’s to not take the opportunities you have for granted. We hope that just as we adjusted to this new environment for dance, everyone else is adapting to a weird but refreshing way of doing things in quarantine.

Emma Barry ’22 & Spandana Vagwala ’22, News Editor & Co Assistant Editor in Chief

22ebarry@montroseschool.org, 22svagwala@montroseschool.org