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GUEST WRITER: IDA Judge Jessica Olinik
Not one of us could have predicted at the beginning of the season that our studios, classes and competition teams would be where they are at this moment. I am quite sure you have caught yourself saying, "We would have been at a competition right now,” or, “Today we would be in jazz class working on recital.” Our kitchens have turned into our own kid’s classrooms and some place in our home has turned into our virtual studio space. We have landed in a weird moment of time, but have we? Before this time, dance instructors had no way to teach classes virtually with their students if bad weather hit, etc. Now we have options and will be ready for anything thrown our way! This is creating a new way of thinking and with that, it is time to re-imagine and re-invent our ways of teaching and connecting with our dance families. By doing so, we are broadening our visions and opening new possibilities and doors for their dance future.
What we are experiencing is not permanent; this will be over, and we will come out of this stronger and much wiser. Keeping your classes and teams connected is essential to bridging this temporary gap. Fun activities, games & creative ideas will promote team camaraderie and give your dance families unforgettable memories. Besides teaching regular dance classes, here are some fun and innovative ideas to connect your dancers virtually.
I do not know about you, but I am over any additional work on devices. Have your dancers put down their technology & pick up a pencil. Pair up students and pass out addresses (get approval from parents beforehand). Tell them to keep their penpal a secret so they have something to look forward to in the mail. The sky is the limit with this idea - plus, your dancers will have “special mementos” from their time in quarantine. There are tons of examples on Google if you search “penpal program.”
This gets your dancers moving and motivated…get ready for tons of giggles & fun! Before conducting your Scavenger Hunt decide what items they will be looking for. There are so many different kinds of themes - Recital Theme, Princess Theme, Competition Memories theme, etc. Make a list of 10 items with 3 bonus items (for higher points) that may be harder to dig up like “old school studio jacket,” “high score trophy pin,” or something funny & simple like “full pair of lyrical shoes.”
Rules of the Hunt:
You only get a minute to search for the items
You cannot bring your device with you on the search
You cannot use your phone or device to show your item
You cannot use the same item twice
Teams, Points & Rewards:
I make the teams as the dancers sign in and break them up between 2-3 groups.
Each dancer can earn a point for their team if they find the item.
It’s up to you if they actually “win” something.
Give each dancer a moment to reminisce about their season & share their special moment with the studio/team. It’s so nice for them to relive their passion & share memories.
Ask each dancer to find either a picture of them from on or offstage from the current season.
Have them send a quote with the picture “I love dance or dance company because….”
Create a warm & fuzzy slideshow with their pictures and quotes for their teammates to see.
At the beginning of your Zoom Class, each student will share a “thorn” (a woe), “rose” (a joy) and “bud” (something that you are looking forward to). Make sure they begin their reflections with their thorn, move into their rose, and end with their bud. The intention is to end with a happy memory and something to look forward to.
Thorn: I didn't practice my splits this week.
Rose: I got my double turn and am so excited.
Bud: I am getting better at remembering my recital dance.
Other Virtual Ideas Include:
Talent Show: anything they have been doing during quarantine - learning to draw, bake, crochet. Sharing their work with one another is very inspirational.
2-minute solo showcase (little ones LOVE this) & they prep for it the whole week.
Rock Paper Scissors Tournament
Work on Title Interview questions for competition season; this usually eats up time in rehearsals anyway.
Two Truths & a Lie (dance related)
In truth, we all want to get “back to our normal” way of teaching. Lead your dancers to new experiences and moments through this time by re-imagining dance. If you are willing to adapt, they will be too. I wish you all great health & happiness during this time.
Jessica proudly hails from the Philadelphia, PA area where she is immersed in all aspects of dance. She is the company director of a very successful pre-professional competitive dance team in Delaware where she instructs all genres of dance as well. She takes pride in being the musical choreographer for her local high school and being a National Seasoned Judge for Impact Dance Adjudicators for 3 seasons.