What to consider when delivering dance classes online - DanceEast's approach

The following blog is brilliantly written by DanceEast, who share their essentials and advice to delivering online:

Several weeks before we entered lockdown, DanceEast began preparations for a digital dance programme in anticipation of what was to come. Considering the challenging period that we were about to enter, there was a strong sense that movement and physical activity would play a key role in supporting both physical health and mental wellbeing. As the home of Dance for the East of England, we felt we had a responsibility to continue providing these opportunities.

There is much to take into consideration when delivering a dance class online. Some aspects remain the same as a normal dance class, for example the importance of warm-up and cool-down, whilst other aspects require a very different approach.

A good warm-up should happen in three stages;

  1. Raise the heart rate
  2. Mobilise (e.g. the joints and the spine)
  3. Stretch (small and non-static)

A good cool-down should also happen in three similar stages;

  1. Return to a resting heart rate
  2. Gently re-mobilise the joints
  3. Longer and deeper stretches (if really warm)

A cool-down is a chance to return the body back to it’s normal ‘resting’ state.

The class content needs to be suitable and adaptable for small spaces, so avoid jumps, turns and travelling. Focus on 2 or 3 simple exercises and allow opportunities for students to be creative and add on some of their own movements, or set a creative task as part of the class so that students can explore an idea further. Allow time for and encourage students to alter the movement or exercise to suit their space. For example, if the exercise involves reaching backward, the participant may need to face a different direction to reach ‘backward’.

‘Check-in’ regularly and praise students just as you would normally, at the end of each exercise and at the end of the class. This is really important to retain that connection, engagement and motivation.

Most importantly, when teaching dance online, there are a number of things to consider around health and safety including safeguarding, risk assessments and insurance. The student will need to risk assess their own space and ensure it is safe to dance and free from potential hazards. Give advice on suitable footwear for example, socks are better on carpet, bare feet on tiled floors and wearing trainers on wooden or hard floors is advisable to cushion the foot.

Below are some recommended resources from One Dance UK and People Dancing that offer further support and guidance –

One Dance UK

Teaching online dance classes tips

People Dancing

Risk assessments for virtual classes and sessions 

Delivering dance classes online 

You can find out more about our digital class programme, ‘Home Is Where The Dance Is’, here, and also view some of our classes on our YouTube channel here.

As an organisation we are just beginning to understand how to deliver not just a good online dance class, but an excellent online dance class in the context of social distancing – and we are learning all the time. We hope that DanceEast’s approach and suggestions give you the confidence to explore delivering your own dance classes online with students, and perhaps to even consider using dance as a tool to teach other subjects across the curriculum.