Even though online classes cannot and should not replace live classes at the studio, it can be an excellent way to continue training when your usual studio is not available. There are tons of free and paid options: Instagram lives, follow-along pre-recorded classes, classes taught on Zoom. To make sure I am investing my time and money in the most efficient way, here is what I look for in any class that I sign up to. Maybe that can inspire you to find your own criteria.
It might seem obvious, but my first requirement is a class taught by a teacher. Professional teachers are trained to pay attention to how to choose a focus for the class, cue and correct students, select and respect the music, adapt the class last minute to the students levels, etc.
I love seeing dancers share their routines with the community and set up the example by showing their discipline and commitment. It gives me a glimpse of what kind of training and exercises they do on their own, while learning about their work ethic and mindset.
Despite this, I notice a huge difference when I take a class given by a trained teacher or not. With a teacher, I get personalized feedback, more guidance and advice, as well as different cues when something does not work, which I usually don’t get with a dancer with no teaching background.
Teaching ballet is a job that requires qualification and experience. Therefore I consider it extremely important, especially while training on our own, to be guided by someone who knows how to teach.
I like to organize my weekly plan in advance, so I prefer when the classes are recurring and already set, as it would happen at my studio. I do not like the idea of wondering every day what class I’ll sign up or if any is available.
Even if there are no live classes available, I make sure to create my own schedule by choosing follow-along classes and conditioning programs. This helps me to maintain a good training rhythm, as well as strengthening my level of focus and self-discipline.
I still keep one unplanned day a week and allow myself to do whatever I feel like doing then. It is my version of “whatever can happen Thursday”.
Strategic and organized
There is no proper class without a strategy and a logic behind the structure and choice of the exercises. I like to see that the class is putting building blocks on top of each other and I can understand the focus from beginning to end. When I can notice and feel a progression from one exercise to the next then I know that I will be able to get something out of that class.
I love how my favorite online class teacher, Isaac Bowry, is still able to make me work on my jumping technique without making me jump for example. Since the beginning of barre, he explains the importance of some movements, uses imagery and sensations throughout the class and, when it’s time to physically jump, I can then recall all this information. The whole class makes so much more sense with such a way of teaching.
Receiving personal, detailed feedback is the key to progress. I make sure to get out of every online class that I follow at least one personal correction to focus on during my practice.
This kind of information comes in handy especially when training on my own, during follow-along classes or simply practicing some exercises my teachers gave me. In this way, even if I have no personalized guidance, I can assess if the cues are relevant to me, and I develop proprioception and discipline – essential qualities for any dancer.
Asking questions is highly valuable to better understand and improve, especially when there is a screen between me and the teacher. While I would most definitely be uncomfortable asking questions if not prompted, I appreciate when the teacher makes time to clear out any doubt.
These are my online class criterias. What are yours?