Hello all! I received a jam-packed full of good idea email from Ruth Ziegler answering my question of what do you do to keep yourself sane and hopefully less exhausted from teaching virtual dance classes. Her response is below… Thank you Ruth!
Great topic and so relevant!!! I teach mainly adults – some very advanced, needing to get back to performances (hopefully) later on this summer and some not as advanced but definitely wanting NOT to lose strength, flexibility and technique.
I have been reading the information that is available through my teacher and dancer wellness groups about the dangers of trying to do a class “full out” while in limited spaces, on less than ideal floor surfaces. I am very grateful for the generosity of many very skilled teachers, in giving sample classes, advice, suggestions, etc.
Here are some great resources I have found:
At Home Barre Class
Barre and Center Work from Pacific Northwest Ballet:
I have a theme for each class I present – using the best music I can find, that goes with each theme. One week we did a mainly Russian inspired class and I sent out the reminder email about the class with some of the email written IN RUSSIAN No, I don’t speak Russian but I was able to find a translation of the phrases I wanted and I just did that. We used some amazing Russian music and I took inspiration from this teacher:
One week, we did a Broadway inspired class, using music from Cats, Cabaret, Sound of Music, Chicago, and incorporating more contemporary types of ballet choreography.
The technique classes are 90 minutes long and I spend a longer than normal amount of time at the barre or whatever support dancers may have. I include at least one or two exercises for turning and at least one exercise for petit allegro. I even have a very safe “face the barre” build up for saute arabesque and cabriole derriere.
I may start the class with a safe center floor “get moving” flowing sequence that I learned from Dmitri Kulev, Artistic Director of DKCBA. Or … with advance notice, I will have dancers get out their large stability balls and we will do a few dancer- specific stability ball exercises before going to the barre. We will repeat an exercise at the barre at a faster pace, to get the heart rate up, while staying very safe and not jarring knees, ankles, etc. We will do the opposite for things like adagio – once at a normal tempo and then again at a slower tempo, to work on strength and stamina.
In the center, I have dancers do exercises that feel like the “real deal” but are safe. We do tendus and degages with either a sustained balance or a pirouette, pas de basque, lots of waltzy things, very soft “pillow” jumps (ie. I ask dancers to work on the bounce and suppleness of the landing from a jump and not the height or strength of the jump), I have exercises for spotting, and of course we can always work on musicality, artistic expression, etc. I always include an exercise that feels like a big jump but isn’t, and always include a formal reverence.
Anyway ….. I STILL find it really hard and I am just exhausted after explaining, demonstrating, and dancing all the combinations in the classes. I have a larger viewing screen but I still can’t really see all my students clearly. That is quite frustrating.
Thanks so much for your generosity as well. I am really enjoying the FUNctional Anatomy videos, as are my students!
Happy and safe dancing, Ruth
Thank you Ruth!
To your success,