Hello everyone! So around this time last year I wrote a walkthrough for an adult ballet class. I figured I might as well update it for a virtual version!
I have no idea how much longer the pandemic is going to impact things like dance classes, or any other classes, but I figured it might be good to share my experience on what a virtual dance class is like. The last update I got from the park district where I take classes is that we could potentially be back in the studio after the new year but I’m thinking that’ll be virtual too. Plus, we kinda told the instructor we’d rather have another virtual class so we don’t have to go out in the cold and snow LOL.
Virtual Adult Ballet Class Walkthrough
So, I shared my Adult Ballet Class Walkthrough last year, as I mentioned, so that anyone who was an adult and may be thinking about doing a dance class might be encouraged to try it out. I know when I started to look for dance classes I was a little nervous and unsure of what to expect. So the goal of that post was to encourage anyone on the fence of whether they wanted to try a class or not to go for it!
Finding a virtual adult ballet class
A lot of what I shared for how to find the class is going to remain the same. I do encourage you to stick to looking in your area when searching for a virtual class though. My reasoning for this is that if you end up really enjoying your class, instructor, and the style of dance you picked, you’ll likely want to continue that class later on when it’s in person, so just pretend it is a class you’d have to drive to in order to determine if that’s a feasible option later too (in terms of distance and if it still fits in your schedule based on the time it’d take to get there). If you really can’t find anything in your area and want something to do, it could be worth trying still but I know that I wouldn’t go out of my immediate area when searching.
In case you didn’t check out the previous post, I shared types of places that could offer adult ballet classes and how to find them, so consider going back to that one!
For me, my dance class is at the same park district that I’ve been taking this class at for about three years now. It started as a summer only course, and I think it was considered an “experiment” to see if anyone would attend. The class ended up being popular in the area so another instructor was eventually hired so it could be taught year round. Since there’s a few of us that now do the class regularly, on top of the fact that the in person classes were always full, the park district decided to offer the virtual class. It’s a lot less popular, unfortunately, so if you’re in a place that would already have less options, the reality is that there may be even less now. My virtual class only ran the last two cycles before this current one because we aren’t taking up space or using utilities in a building, we’re over Zoom. Otherwise, I think the class would have been cancelled because there were only three students (including me) and normally the minimum is six. I do think it worked out and paid off for the park district because they were able to attract two brand new students (as in, they hadn’t taken this particular class – they were dancers before) on top of the three of us who have been attending all along. Plus, if they had stopped offering the class I probably would have forgotten to keep checking the site to see if more classes were added so I might have missed it later. While the instructor has said there are multiple people who told her that they are only skipping the class because it’s virtual, I think the fact that they were able to attract new people to the class is great because I do think it’s likely that the new people will continue it later in person if that option comes back and it still fits their schedule.
If it’s a place that you know would normally have a class but doesn’t currently, I say you should ask them if they can consider it! That’s how I was able to get my class increased from one course a week to two, even though it’s virtual. They agreed to put it out there and allow people to sign up, with the understanding that if there wasn’t at least 3 (myself and the two other students who were in the last class and agreed to take two classes a week too). If a place isn’t offering it, there might be the impression that no one is interested so it doesn’t hurt to ask.
What you need
In the last post I mainly focused on the clothing aspect of the class. In virtual class, the same exact thing applies. Fitted workout clothes is best! But I’ll be honest, I have to provide a bit more now that I’m in a virtual class.
For a barre, I’m using the back of a chair. I thought about ordering a portable at-home barre off Amazon or something but I thought “oh it’s just six weeks of one class”. Well, it’s now been longer than that but I don’t find that I need it. The chair works great and I don’t really want to store it. One of my classmates does have a portable barre and has now switched to a chair as well, because of the space it takes up. My instructor herself uses a chair too. I much prefer the chair now actually because it is less helpful so I find myself relying on it way less than if I was in class with a proper barre.
Now, my class has become a bit more workout-based as a virtual class. Other classes, especially ones that are in dance schools, might not be able to do this but mine has started to incorporate weights! I went out and bought some 2 pound hand weights for the class, but my instructor said we could use water bottles or other household objects if we didn’t have weights. Again, this is not typical of a ballet class, at all. But we wanted to make it more workout based as our instructor does teach pilates and other workout classes and offered to add that in for us as more conditioning.
Also, be sure to prep a space for the class but don’t stress if it’s not perfect. I have my laptop with the camera on my desk and I dance in the middle of my home office. Unfortunately, I have to cut my head off of my camera because it’s not far back enough to get my entire body, and I want it focused on my feet. It’s not the best but it works! Same thing goes for the flooring. I have carpet, so it’s not the best for dancing, but I make it work!
What to expect- the walkthrough
So, this is where it can really vary from class to class. This is just my experience in this one class, so please keep that in mind! Since we’re virtual, my instructor chose to make it more conditioning and strength training to prepare to go back to the studio. We then requested even more conditioning which led it to become more of a workout. But we still do a lot of ballet!
We always start with the “barre”. Our focus on the barre is to work on balance. It’s harder to know if the instructor is singling anyone out in particular during class, I’ll admit that so the way I cope with that is that I listen to her correction and do it anyway, even if I think I am already. For example, if she says shoulders down, she’s probably not talking to me (because that part of my body is usually cut off by my camera) but I do it anyway because chances are my shoulders are a bit higher than they should be. Same thing for pulling in my belly button or trying to keep my hips still. It’s a lot of corrections that we’re more in charge of fixing now, simply because she can’t see them as well as in the studio.
After that, we do a bit of work in the “middle” of the floor. We move our chairs out of the way and do some more work without a “barre”. It’s amazing for working on balancing. This is where the weights are coming in now! We’re using weights to further strengthen our arms.
To end the class, we do some stuff on the actual floor since we can’t really jump and leap around our homes properly. Some stretching, some more conditioning, and then we’re done! Our instructor leaves some time for us to give feedback to her at the end, and then we log off until the next class.
Honestly, it does run a lot like an at-home workout video but I prefer this one because I know the instructor is watching me and so I can’t slack off. I do slack off when doing the workout videos so I much prefer this!
Here’s a few random little bits I thought I’d add.
I guess if you wanted to then you can still wear any “proper” ballet clothing like leotards and such at home. I have two fellow dancers who do wear leotards to class and one just wears leggings over them while the other does full ballet wear like tights and stuff. Honestly, it’s up to you in most of these adult ballet classes that are just for fun (I’m sure professional is completely different but that is not what this post is about!). We all still do wear our ballet shoes though!
Keep an eye on your surroundings! Again, you need to prep your space. Do some test leg extensions around your chair/barre to make sure you don’t accidentally kick furniture or the wall or something stationary. Then, continue to keep an eye out if you have family members, human or pets, that might accidentally get in the way. At least one dog did get kicked in the classes that I attended (he’s okay!) but they’re sneaky so keep an eye out. I don’t have pets but I did pet sit once and my puppy niece was super confused what was going on when I was dancing. I did have to pause a bit during that class to gently move her out of the way.
Be creative with getting your materials. Once again, you do not need to go out and drop $100+ on a barre or even build one out of PVC pipes (but you can find a ton of Pinterest posts on how to do that if you want). Chairs work great at home. If your class is like mine and adds in weights, you can use water bottles like my instructor said if you don’t have them and don’t want to buy any (or can’t find them if they’re sold out).
Arrive on time! This is also important for in-person classes, but also for virtual classes. On Zoom, the instructor has to let us in if we’re not already waiting to join at the start, so one time a student was half an hour late and still waited ten minutes because the instructor forgot to keep an eye out to see if she joined late. The instructor will likely still wait a couple minutes if you are running late, but it’s still not nice to keep everyone waiting.
Don’t forget water! Just as you would have water nearby for an in-person class, do not forget to stay hydrated for your virtual class. We work up quite a sweat in the virtual class so I’ve only made that mistake once!
Lastly, whether it’s your first ballet class or just your first virtual ballet class, don’t stress! No one in my class has a dance studio in their home so we’re all using different corners of our homes to dance. I’m in my home office, one dancer is in front of her dining table, another is in her basement, the instructor is in her living room, and so on. Everyone is there to have fun and the instructor is there to guide you through it all so no need to worry about it. I think that it would be a pretty big challenge to do your first ballet class virtual because there’s a lot to keep in mind, but with practice you’ll learn. Just go for it!
While virtual dance class does present some new and unique challenges, it’s still fun and incredibly rewarding. Just use some creative problem solving or do the best you can, pay attention during class, and have fun! That’s the goal anyway!
Thanks for reading!
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