BY AUDRA ALLEN
Right now you are reading this most likely filled with mixed emotions and have so many questions both personally and professionally. You’re not sure if you will be able to convince your studio families that it is worth it to pay tuition to take dance classes online. Some families may negatively respond. Many may ask for refunds. Is pre-recorded better than live classes? How do you go about even starting it?
First, I want you to stop right now and take a deep breath…and another one… Close your eyes, take one more breath to remove all the worries and focus in on this moment as you are reading one of many helpful resources to get you moving forward.
I am here telling you that yes, you can successfully transition your classes to a virtual setting. I know this because my entire business, Audra Allen Dance LLC, is a virtual dance center. I have been teaching my dancers live, online for over a year now. And I have been helping studio owners and teachers strategize the best plan of action for them and then quickly implementing it. Each has found what works and is even sharing their successes with happy families so grateful for their dancers continuing to keep something they love, in their lives.
How you communicate to your family is key in keeping everyone focused and on board with you. Coming from a place of stress and fear that they can feel, will make it harder for them to transition with you. Coming from a place of confidence and true belief that is the right step for your studio and students will help them to believe you and see that you have a firm handle on it (even if you don’t feel like you do…just yet).
Remind your families of the value you offer.
They come to you not only for the instruction from you and your faculty, but also for the loving and supportive community space you’ve created. This continued support is even more necessary right now for their dancers and the families.
Your teachers’ ability and skill sets did not diminish because they are not in the same room as your child. In fact, now your teachers are even more skilled because they quickly learned how to adapt to teaching online and have even more value to offer.
Their dancers’ training will continue and improvement will be made. If you go the route of live classes, you can emphasize this even more as they will receive individual feedback from your instructors. Rehearsals can still be held, with only minor adjustments made (like temporarily working on the choreography itself but putting on hold formations and such) Going the prerecorded route still offers value and you can even offer both. Continue the live classes and offer additional pre-recorded classes so they receive even more opportunities to dance at this time.
Make clear your expectations of the students.
I encourage you to require dress code, hair done and shoes on. Bring water bottles, etc, so those elements help the dancers mentally shift to the mode of dance class while they are still in their homes.
Communicate with your Teachers
As a studio owner, you may receive some pushback from your faculty as teaching from their home or without students in the same space will also be new and a challenge to them. Make sure to not forget to help your faculty feel that they have all the tools and resources they need, including training on how to be the most successful from this.
This could look like doing a trial class with all the teachers joining, and each teacher gets a chance to practice with the other teachers role playing as the students, to adjust and see what it’s like to be online live, before actually teaching their students.
Be Open; It’s not about being “perfect.”
Most importantly, everyone, families and teachers included need to be open to this new, temporary, normal. Yes, you will be inside each other’s homes. Yes, you will see pets, siblings, toys, parents, distractions, tantrums, fights, etc. It is part of this situation. You continue to move forward with your classes as you all shift and transition into a new and exciting way of learning dance. Teachers, it’s okay that you’re in your living room, or bedroom, or kitchen, wherever you have room to teach. Your students are going to love learning more about you, like seeing your cat or the pictures on your walls, etc.
This is a great moment to bond even more with your families and come closer together as a studio family and community. Trust in this process and this new skill set you are quickly learning as well. Be patient with yourself and make sure to give yourself credit with how fast you are proactively problem solving this. Make sure to give your faculty, staff and families credit too.
You are now adding a new tool to your box to supplement your dancers training moving forward, as you move back into your normal and come face-to-face next year.
See the positives and trust all that you are capable of. You WILL be successful with this. Keep breathing.
Workbook: “Teaching Dance Live Online: How To Prep & Transition”
The Dance Educator Resource
K-12 Dance Educators Needing Class Planning Help: Work with Erin Pride at Dance Boss University