With all of the uncertainty surrounding when we’ll all be able to get back into the dance studio, I’d like to take a moment to focus on what we’re gaining by dancing alone at home. Here are 10 ways in which dancing alone in your home develops useful skills and promotes self-awareness that can be utilized once we can gather together again.
When training in self-isolation, focus can now shift away from what your dancing/body looks like and onto how it feels.
Couch, Cat, Cha-Cha-Cha, Chair, Table, In-My-Way
We must consider our own individual spatial constraints and how to quickly adjust movement to dance at home, whether it’s avoiding running into furniture, small children, or darting pets. These decisions will translate to improved spatial awareness in the dance studio, especially when dancing near support pillars like those found in many New York City studios. And, don’t forget to be aware of your vertical space. That ceiling fan might be keeping you cool but it’s been known to viciously attack during fierce, full-out arm practice. On the other side, your core and leg strength may improve as you work harder than ever on landing softly to avoid noise complaints from your downstairs neighbor.
3:00 AM Hip Hop Heels - Yes, Please!
Asynchronous class offerings allow you to choose when you want to take a class. You may discover that you enjoy taking classes at a different time than you did before, which could introduce you to new styles and teachers.
A Whole New World
With so many companies and presenters offering online access to dance performances, you may find a new dream company with whom you wish to dance or view live. As for training, whether they're in your local area or in another country, you're being exposed to many new teachers with whom you may want to work with further once possible.
Mirror, Mirror (not) on the Wall
If you're also a person that doesn't have full-length studio-style mirrors in your house, let's reflect on the positive this provides. When training in self-isolation, focus can now shift away from what your dancing/body looks like and onto how it feels. Take a moment to experience a line, then repeat it, again and again, making adjustments each time until you can create the line with one effort. This repetition will increase our proprioception and kinesthetic intelligence, making us less reliant on the mirror for feedback.
Dance Like Nobody's Watching
Because they aren't. If you're not taking a live, synchronous class, then there really isn't anyone watching you. How can dancing alone increase your ability to take risks in your movement choices? Do you feel more comfortable emoting or performing a bit more exaggerated than you usually do in class? There is no one around to cause you to feel self-conscious, so take a risk, make a different choice, and truly dance like no one is watching!
Without a teacher prompting you to move on before you may feel ready, you now have the time to investigate the timing, gesture, intent, musical structure, spatial pathways, dynamic shifts, depth of plié, and on and on. Use this time to deepen your critical analysis skills so that once you return to the dance studio, you'll be able to make these decisions more quickly and precisely. Also, in a way, you are your own teacher because asking questions isn’t as easy as it is when face-to-face in the studio. Now you can grow your learning skills by finding answers to your questions on your own, which will help in auditions or when taking classes with teachers who don’t stop to answer questions.
Adjust the Tracking?
Ever been in a rehearsal where the choreographer is restaging a piece from a video? Well, if not, it's reasonably possible that it's coming your way. The skills you're currently acquiring while learning prerecorded movement will be incredibly useful when you need to learn the part of the "woman in the green shirt" from a VHS tape from 1987. VHS, for those of you born after 2005, stood for Video Home System and served as the primary method for recording and playback until DVDs took over. You haven't truly lived until you've learned a dance from a VHS tape. One tip, if the teacher is facing the camera and you're having problems reversing the movement, turn your device toward a mirror and watch through it instead. Now they're dancing on the same side as you!
Your inner artist, and your future audience, may end up appreciating this time as one of exploring, learning, and nurturing new skills
Call Me Scorsese
Today more than ever, it's essential to know how to film yourself dancing. Whether you're posting on TikTok or improvising for your latest reel, the right lighting, angles, and sizing make all the difference. If your video taking and editing skills are lacking, now's the time to seek out tutorials and YouTube videos to up your video game. Or, set up a video chat with a friend who makes videos you respect and ask for some help.
The Turning Point
Interested in creating dance for the camera? A solo film is, of course, possible, but why not recruit some of your dance buddies to film some work in their shelters for inclusion in your film? Think about the spaces in your home that others probably also have then request movement studies or phrases from decided upon areas. Shower restriction study? Laundry room space and level study? Stairwell rhythmic study? Under your bed phrase? So many options!
Every Body Can Dance
To dance, all one needs is a body and some inspiration. Let's acknowledge what we do have and remember to cherish how lucky we are to have an outlet to express the internal strife that we may be experiencing. Whether we're dancing alone for ourselves or creating movement for others to watch, dance heals. This is also a great time to focus on healing and strengthening your body. Engaging in those sometimes less glamorous activities of conditioning, stretching, foam rolling, and self-massage will give your body some much needed TLC.
There is no one around to cause you to feel self-conscious, so take a risk
Orson Welles said: "The absence of limitations is the enemy of art." Deeming this time of self-isolation as a "restriction study" may allow your creativity to blossom while shifting your focus to skill acquisition beyond nailing the latest and greatest dance moves. Your inner artist, and your future audience, may end up appreciating this time as one of exploring, learning, and nurturing new skills that you may not have placed the time or attention on developing before.