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BWW Blog: The Online College Dance Class Experience

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If you are like me, you never imagined that the remainder of your semester would be spent dancing in your family room. No mirror and no barre, just your computer and a chair from your dining room table. This new lifestyle became the new normal and the new way of dancing with you peers (even if it is through a computer).

I found through taking either ballet or modern online, it can sometimes be a very isolating experience. I am so used to talking to friends before class, greeting my teacher, responding to corrections, and asking questions. All these things I could still do, but through my laptop. Even though I could physically see my teachers and my friends, it was only through my screen and very one dimensional. Dance is not supposed to be done that way. I find that dance is a way for me to express myself and to also feed off the people around me. Now when I attend class I just see my peers faces through a small box on a screen and that is all I can gage from them sometimes.

I must admit that I was not certain on how class would play out through the end of the semester. I was nervous that I would lose my flexibility and strength and that all my hard work from the previous classes would be for nothing. However, these fears were soon put to rest when I realized that I was in control of my education and that I would determine what I took away from class.

Both my ballet and modern teachers repeatedly made it a point to say that these classes were for us. We were in charge of what we took away from class and how we applied it to ourselves. We had to push ourselves, we had to put the extra time in, and we had to advocate for ourselves if something was not working.

Every day I took an hour and twenty-five-minute technique class just like I would if I were at school. However, I had to learn to modify and do what worked for my body. My instructors were very understanding that each student had a different space and different home situations. Every morning I would either pull out my "barre" for ballet or set down my mat and get ready to do Pilates exercises for my modern class.

A typical ballet class would begin with barre exercises and that is what we continued to do. This is where modifying came in. I did not have the space to do a full grand battement sometimes or even attempt a pirouette. Instead I soon learned what I could do for the space I was in as well as keep up the strength I worked so hard to maintain. Center work would typically involve strengthening exercises as well as tendu, adagio, and grand battement exercises. Outside of class I found it helpful to stretch and to also continue to work on strengthening exercises.

For my modern class, we were also focused on ways to continue to build and explore our strength. This was done through different Pilates exercises lead by our teacher. The goal by the end of the semester was to be able to bring these seated exercises and turn them into a standing combination. Our class was successful in doing so and this combination was used for our final so that our teacher could evaluate our personal growth.

I have discovered through this two-month experience that I sometimes need to be my own teacher and definitely my own motivator. It can be easy to get into a slump and not feel as motivated to go to class. However, I found new ways to make class exciting for myself. Dancers are known to be able to adapt to any situation, whether it be a new stage, studio, or instructor. Dancing in my living room was no exception to that.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Alyssa Schmidek