With guidelines established for the reopening of gyms, yoga studios and other fitness-based businesses, Canberra’s dance schools don’t neatly fit into any of the fields laid out by the ACT Government last month.
Spence’s Dance Development Centre (DDC) has chosen to follow the restrictions applied to gyms in Step 2.1 of the Territory’s COVID-19 Easing of Restrictions Roadmap, which allows for supervised sessions of up to 20 people.
They decided to stagger the return of their students, starting by bringing in their pre-professional students from 2 June for a few hours a week in their facility.
Their offerings will then expand from 9 June as they introduce a modified after school program.
But DDC director Jackie Hallahan said that following the gym protocols isn’t an ideal fit since their pre-professional course is vocational and requires testing of their students.
“It’s very confusing for our students and their families as to when we could come back and also for us as well.
“These are the challenges of something occurring that none of us were prepared for, there was no roadmap so all of us have had to make it up as we’ve gone along.”
Since shutting down on 24 March, Hallahan has provided her students with free online Zoom classes to tide them over.
“When we all had to say goodbye, it was very emotional because we had been used to working together for a long time; the centre is 35 years old.
“It was a bit of a shock to have all this happen over the past few months but every day we connected on our Zoom classes,” she said.
Hallahan said conducting the Zoom classes has been quite a different experience compared to teaching students in the room.
“When you normally teach in the room you can make corrections and they can be received individually or as a group; on Zoom it’s more about seeing people doing what you’re giving them and enjoying themselves.
“They take from that what they can; the main thing from that was inspiration and just the love and joy of dancing together every day.
“It’s very physical for the teacher, when you normally teach you can mark an exercise but when you’re doing a Zoom class, you’re really doing it,” she said.
Hallahan said while the shutdown has been difficult for the centre at large, it has afforded her some unexpected benefits for the Canberra dance school.
“Over the past few months, it’s been a wonderful opportunity to spring clean the studio and sort through all our costumes and also look at DDC memorabilia which has been really lovely.”
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