This past weekend as stricter isolation measures were being put in place, free training classes from professionals, schools, and dance organizations seemed to explode overnight. We are all very fortunate to have access to social media and to be able to share in this exchange of online resources and recorded classes. But with so many options and classes available now, many of us might be wondering what is right for me and how can I get the most out of this time off from class? Below are some suggestions and guidelines for your training at home.
Assess your surroundings:
First determine where you will be practicing and what would be the best space available in your home. If you hope to do a ballet barre class, you should have something sturdy to hold on to. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a barre, but can easily be a chair, a counter, or anything about higher than your hips and below your shoulders. If you are planning on doing center movement, make sure that you have enough clearing all around you to be able to move your arms and legs freely. This might be a good time as well to lock up the dogs and cats if they like to dance too!
For flooring, most dancers are not going to have access to a Marley floor, but that’s okay! The second best type of surface to train on would be wood. Concrete and carpet are not ideal, but can work for short barre workouts. Avoid anything that will catch your feet while moving, like grout lines, thick carpet areas, or rugs.
Lastly, if your following a class online, make sure you have an outlet available and a place to put your computer where you can see it!
Determine what to take:
The goal to training at home is to maintain your strength and technical skill at its current level. With that said, there are many videos out on the internet that will be a great resource for you, and a few to avoid. Once you know what genre you wish to take, head over to YouTube or Facebook to find an appropriate class.
In determining what an appropriate class is, one should look at a few things about the video itself. First does it feature a qualified teacher or professional from a reputable school, company, or organization? Is the quality clear enough to hear conversations and music? Can you see clearly what the instructor is asking you to do? Is there someone to demonstrate steps? The answer to all of these questions should be yes!
Next is to determine what videos are appropriate for your skill set level. Remember that the goal is to maintain training. The focus should be on finding a class that matches your skill level and does not over challenge or need to instruct you on how to do steps. Skim through the video and watch a few seconds of several combinations. Do you recognize the vocabulary being used throughout the video? Do you currently practice the steps being asked of in the video? Are there moments that confuse you or need clarification? Ideally you should not be following along a class that is confusing, above your training, or teaches in a different stylized technique. Without a proper instructor to monitor and provide guidance for your training, you could pick up bad habits and learn steps incorrectly.
Unless you have a professional sprung floor with a Marley floor installed in your home, jumping and pointe work should be avoided or kept to a very minimal at all costs. This is to avoid injury from landing on hard or un-level surfaces. If you are a student who has had over a year of consistent pointe training, it is okay to put your pointe shoes on and do releves at a barre to maintain strength, however now is not the time to perfect that triple pirouette on your tile floor in the kitchen.
How often should to practice at home:
What is the correct amount of time to spend at home training? It would be difficult to completely replace all of our hours of training at the studio for training at home, but with that said, here are some thoughts to maintain your training.
Try to work out every day that you would have come to dance class. If you would have attended ballet class every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, try taking a barre class on each of those days. If Wednesday nights were your Contemporary class nights, try to find a fun warmup and contemporary video or exercise that you can follow along to. To avoid the pains of pointe when you return, try your best to put on your pointe shoes at least once a week and do a few releves at home with barre assistance.
Lastly, this can be a great time to explore cross training with dance. Yoga has some great cross training benefits for all dancers. The benefits include an increase in flexibility and range of motion and a strengthening of the core and muscles as you flow in and out of positions. It can also provide a great way to cool down and relax at the end of a long day stuck inside!
Below are some great resources for free classes available online to follow. Additionally, be sure to check out ADT’s new YouTube Channel and Facebook page daily for some fun challenges and classes available!
https://www.facebook.com/clistudios/ (Contains multiple dance classes and different genres. Usually a paid subscription that they are making available for free right now!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_t15Kq35nuA (Intermediate Ballet Barre with Claudia Dean, great for Children’s Ballet 4 and up)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSIfgTOowYk (Intermediate Advanced Ballet Barre with Kathryn Morgan, also great for Children’s Ballet 4 and up)
We miss our wonderful students in the building and hope to see everyone back really soon!
Alaska Dance Theatre
550 E. 33rd Ave
Anchorage, AK 99503
Phone: 907-277-9591 (March 9th - 15th, Front Desk is open from 12:00pm-3:30 pm)
Alaska Dance Theatre is a nonprofit school of dance serving Alaskans since 1980. Voted #1 Dance School in Anchorage 2019 by Anchorage Press readers. Variety of dance styles available. Dancers all levels welcome!