This information was written by Sonia Rafferty, SiDI Co-Founder and Charlotte Tomlinson, SiDI Associate.
Our live dance activities have now been hit hard by the Coronavirus epidemic but many of you are giving up your time and energy to provide online classes and even more of us are searching for these classes to help us maintain our physical and mental health.So that we can all enjoy these activities as safely and productively as possible, SiDI has put together some guidance and key points to bear in mind when teaching and participating online:
- Check your insurance: Before you begin, check with your insurer that you are covered to teach online sessions, whether they be live or pre-recorded. After your kindness and generosity in doing the sessions it would be heart-breaking for someone to make a claim against you! It would also be wise to provide a disclaimer so have a look at some online for ideas. It’s important that you protect yourself as well as those taking part.
- Evidence your experience: Make people aware of your credentials. Highlight that you have professional knowledge, skills or background, so that participants can clearly see that you have the appropriate expertise and that they feel they are in safe and experienced hands.
- Set up your space: If you’re demonstrating activities for others to follow, set up your home area efficiently. Risk-assess as you would if you were teaching in your normal venue. Although you may not be able to see the participants that you are teaching, you can advise them on what makes a safe environment for them to dance in, even if it’s in their living room, and set a good example of this yourself in your own space. People Dancing (UK) have some helpful further advice on this (see link below).
- Adapt your content: Be aware of the limitations that people will have have when dancing in what is likely to be a small space. Modify the content and material to take this into account.
- Provide options for different ability levels: Make sure that your potential participants understand the level of your class and how to respond to your instruction. Provide alternatives for different levels of ability and explain these clearly.
- Warm up and Cool Down: Just as you should in all dance sessions, prepare with a gradual warm up (pulse raiser, joint mobilisation, dynamic stretches and dance style specific movements) that leads into and prepares for the main content of your class. Afterwards, include a gradual cool down (pulse reducer and easing out the joints) and static stretches.
- Don’t do too much: Try not to do too much or cram everything into one session. When teaching live classes (those that are synchronous/rely on people imitating you within the same time frame), avoid rushing your warm-up or forgetting your cool-down. Consider if the pace is appropriate for the context – your class should progress gradually and include some recovery periods. In any class, indicate the importance of rest periods and water breaks.
- Make your space safe: Check your space by doing your own mini risk assessment (see People Dancing link below). For example, make sure that you have enough room around you and clear the working/dancing area as much as possible (ballet barre in the kitchen anyone?). If you’re dancing on a hard floor, wear cushioned shoes. Roll up the rug to avoid slipping. Make sure any wires (from your computer or home appliances for example) are kept out of your way.
- Choose reliable teachers: When choosing from the huge number of tutorials on offer, look out for details of the teacher’s expertise and background. Choose activities that you feel comfortable with and instructors that have a reputation and a weight of knowledge behind them. Don’t be tempted with classes that have leaders with unrealistic expectations and check that they offer different options for different levels of ability. Otherwise, tailor the level of the class to your own needs.
- Warm up and cool down: If the class teacher hasn’t included a warm-up, then do your own first. The same goes for a cool-down afterwards (see link below for further information).
- Don’t do more than you are able: Don’t push yourself too hard, beyond your usual skill or ability level. Take time for recovery within the session and between sessions.
- Familiarise yourself with injury management (PRICED): In the unfortunate event of an injury occurring when dancing in your own home and there may be limited access or contact with therapists, be as familiar as you can with the recommendations for self injury management (see link to “PRICED” below).
Online dance activities will not only help us to stay dance ready, fit and active, but will also help us to remain connected to each other and support our mental and psychological health. The Coronavirus has caused fear, worry and anxiety for us personally and for our profession so many thanks to all of you who have created access to these free, good quality online classes to keep us dancing.