woman stretching on yoga mat at home

With everything shutting down because of the Coronavirus, it is especially hard for us to keep up with our art. Sure, it’s important to practice social distancing, but we still have to practice dance to maintain our technique and artistry. This is a rare challenge (and opportunity), and we must take a look at what our options are to stay in shape and be ready to go once the world starts moving again. 

we have to use all the resources and networks at our disposal to help us stay motivated and creative

Online Classes

This was the first thought because of how universities are handling the situation and how the dance community immediately responded, sharing live classes on social media. The best part is that there are several options out there to help you keep dancing. DancePlug offers a variety of video tutorials to choose from, different styles, levels, choreography, and conditioning. DancePlug also extended an invitation to the dance community to share personal classes or teaching videos with the dance community through DancePlug with Friends. Taking a live or recorded class in your home may sound like a crazy thought, but having the time to rewind and work through your personal goals is a great way to improve. This can be a time to focus on transitions, personal artistry, alignment, or maybe dancing alone will give you courage for exploration and trying new things. Finding time to practice dance in a new physical and mental space can help you improve when you’re back in a normal routine and get to go to class.

In addition to online classes, you could take this time to choreograph or plan your classes (and potentially share them, too). Whether it’s just for you or for a future project, it would keep your body and brain active and focused on dance. Traditional classes and rehearsals may be on hold, but social media is an available outlet to share your work. Plus, there are lots of ideas out there to try, like play with rhythms or spice up your class warmup.

You can also focus on your strength and flexibility. Think of this as a time to get ahead. Getting stronger can make different tricks easier, and your body safer as a whole. It’s a great time to pull out your tennis balls, thera-bands, and other equipment and focus on your stabilizers! In addition to strength, stretching is another option.  Stretching your muscles is an effective way to relax, but also maintain or improve flexibility. Yoga and Pilates are some options out there that focus on building strength and flexibility

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Take Dance Outside

Online classes are an obvious option, but taking your movement outdoors could make it even better. There are so many benefits from going and moving outside, including how the fresh air boosts different parts of the immune system, and sunlight helps boost your mood. Dancing out in the open does bring up some challenges, like fighting friction, but especially now the benefits from being in the open air could be just what we need. You can adapt your dance class for the outdoors and get fresh air, or find new choreographic inspiration with a new perspective. 

Moving outside will enhance many different parts of the body. Not only does it strengthen the immune system, but it also exercises your problem solving skills, and makes physical movement easier. Plus, it makes dancing while social distancing still social as you share your practice with others who may be enjoying the greenery as well. All of these things combine to keep your body moving and practicing your technique, while being somewhat social out of the house and making it easier to stay positive.

woman using a foam roller on her T-band muscle

Practice Self-Care

Whether in a full time job or hustling, we don’t get a lot of time off.  Even though it’s a forced shut-down, stay positive and take care of your body. Yes, keep up with your pliés and tendus, strengthening and stretching, but also give yourself some time to rest and recover your hard working muscles! This could also be a time for you to organize your dance plan (or life in general), or journal and reflect. Journaling is a great way to write your goals, assess your progress for this time, or reflect on other things you feel are important. You can focus on something specific, and try some research. This could be the time to learn the biomechanics behind how muscles actually stretch, about nutrition, or why dance technique is there to protect your body. Or read up on some self improvement for better ways to take class. All of that information will feed your body and help inform when you get back into the studio.

Catch Up on Videos

My favorite way to practice dance and improve my technique is through watching other people dance. Again, live performances aren’t happening right now, but the internet is a great resource. Some companies have been sharing performances on the internet, as well as the catalog of videos already posted. Watch new videos to learn about what your contemporaries are up to. Take some time to brush up on dance history. Watch some older videos to re-familiarize yourself with pioneers, or maybe a style you don’t train in. 

When I watch other people dance, my brain and body want to figure out how they move like that. It’s a way to learn visually, and imitate what we see. I find that after watching something, my body naturally picks up different pieces of their artistry or dance technique. It could help with dynamics, fluidity, focus, intention, or wake something up in my choreographic brain. Watching others is a great way to stay current and add to my dance “tool box”.

Finding time to practice dance in a new physical and mental space can help you improve when you’re back in a normal routine

We all know this stretch of time is going to be tough. So, we have to use all the resources and networks at our disposal to help us stay motivated and creative. We are all in this together. Even though we are practicing social distancing, we still must keep dancing. Try some online classes to keep technique strong and your body active and use this time to get ahead, or catch up. Stay motivated, stay positive, stay healthy!

top photo © Elly Fairytale

About the author

Adrienne Elion is a wandering soul who has traveled all across America for dance training, performances, and internships, as well as travelled internationally for workshops and research.  This past summer, Adrienne performed in Pittsburgh, PA with The Blanket to dance for New York choreographer Beth Gill, in Yolk & Grove.  She just graduated from Shenandoah University with a BFA in Dance and a Physics Minor.  Thankful for the many opportunities and experiences from there, Adrienne is moving forward chasing her performance dreams, with a future goal of running a theatre.