At-home teaching sacrifices the quality of education for dance majors
The switch to virtual schooling has challenged students majoring in dance. Online dance classes come with substantial obstacles. Audio lag from the instructor to the student makes it difficult for students and instructors to give accurate feedback.
The preparation before each class is now more involved than in-person classes. Linda Maxwell, Humboldt State University’s dance program director, misses traditional instruction and finds it hard to create relationships with her students online.
“Without the human connection, finding a way to connect to each student is simply more difficult and time consuming,” Maxwell said. “I personally can make less one-on-one connections in each class compared to a face-to-face class.”
Instructors must modify their teaching style and specific assignments to be as inclusive as possible, catering to the small spaces students have available.
In-person dance class consisted of the instructor faced towards the mirrors at one end of the room and students behind them mirroring their moves. Now, students are forced to learn choreography backwards, because of Zoom’s mirroring display.
Alex Dyer, HSU senior dance major, biggest challenge is not having access to a full studio. Instead, Dyer designated a small section between her kitchen and living room for dance class.
“Trying to choreograph dances for my classes in a small section at home has been very hard,” Dyer said. “Because I never really know if what I created will work.”
Chloe Schmidt, a junior dance major, found a unique opportunity present that would never have been possible prior to the pandemic.
“One of the most amazing things to come out of this situation is that dancers from all over the world can take classes from some of the best teachers out there,” Schmidt said. “There is never the same energy in a Zoom class as there is when in person, but still, pretty incredible to have the opportunity to learn from the greats even if you are a thousand miles away.”
Considering the unusual conditions that dance students have endured, this experience has led them to become stronger individuals. Schmidt remains optimistic about the future.
“This situation has made me and many other dancers learn how to keep our inspiration up and navigate our art form in new and challenging ways,” Schmidt said. “I hope the future of dance is going to be even more vibrant and innovative.”