2020 For Dance586

A performance by Anne & Chris, two students from Dance586.

Learning is something we do every day of our lives.
This year from March 2020 we learned how to keep doing what we love, Dancing!
The team at Dance586 always finds a way to make the best of what can be considered a difficult situation and we have embraced it.
We have loved every minute of our new approach to continuing our dancing.
The best part was that due to Dance586’s creativity we were still able to do our performance, online.

What 2020 has meant for our students.

” 2020 has been a challenge for everyone, but for me, the hardest thing has been lack of human interaction.  As I live alone, I have really missed seeing my friends and work colleagues, but one gazillion times worse than that is not seeing my dance buddies and visiting my “happiest kingdom of them all” – Dance586 Camberwell.  I cannot bear to think of a life without dancing, so I am really grateful for the efforts being made by the studio to keep us all dancing and connected.

The highlight of my week is seeing Damien’s smiling face on the computer screen on Wednesdays and Fridays.  The online lessons were a challenge at first, it was like being a child standing outside the lolly shop with money in your hand but they wouldn’t let you in!  Damien’s knowledge, talent, and encouragement soon took that feeling away, and after a few lessons, we got our mojo happening.  It’s amazing how much you can still learn even when not in dance hold in the same room.  And the repartee and laughs are just as good.

Another welcome reprieve from my isolation has been the recently introduced group classes.  I can dance or exercise with instructors and fellow students online every day of the week if I want, which hopefully will assist with mitigation of the COVID-Kilos and Iso-insulation!  It is also lovely to see Jess back at the studio.

We all have our ups and downs in this crazy year, so when I feel I bit down I try to focus on the positives – I am safe, warm, and healthy.  I have money to buy what I need, even though my income has been drastically reduced.  I have lovely friends and family to catch up with on the phone or on zoom.  But most of all, I have the ongoing connection with the dedicated team at Dance586 Camberwell.  I look forward to seeing you all again in person, and can’t promise that I won’t cry.”

“Dance 586 online classes have been a lifeline throughout this pandemic time. This may sound dramatic but it’s true.

With the onset of COVID, came some dire restrictions. These affected my work, my social life, my family life, and in a big way, my dance activities. One by one, each of these dropped like a house of cards and were taken away, it was overwhelming.

For the first two weeks, I was in a state of shock and walked around in a daze. It felt like I’d woken up in some sort of virtual reality bubble that was impossible and not even safe to emerge from.  Time seemed to stop. I went from attending the Dance586 Studio for private and group classes, connecting with my teacher and the other students several times a week, to staying within the four walls of my home wondering how to fill my day. It felt like intense grief but of a whole different kind, dance has always provided me with enormous joy, fun, and a supportive group of friends. Now that was no longer there.

Very soon after, the Studio began offering classes online.  This came with a huge sense of relief for me, excitement and gratitude. No, it wasn’t the same as face-to-face but it felt like a thread from my ‘other life’ had been picked up. Even after 2 weeks’ absence, seeing everyone online, saying hi, dancing with them, being instructed and inspired again was so heart-warming. It gave me hope. It began to lift some of the grief and I could once again be in the moment, happy and moving my body in creative ways. Each class brought me into the moment and sadness melted away for that time.

My private classes took a bit of getting used to, so many things to consider when you are dancing on your own. But that has eased over time, I work individually with my teacher Sam on patterns and technique in all the four styles offered at the Studio. I continue to refine my skills and prepare for not 1 but 2 Gold medals I will eventually present, as well as solo performances when things come back to face-to-face learning. With Sam’s patient, clear and fun teaching, peppered with a great sense of humour I stay focused, stimulated and motivated. The sessions keep me focused, stimulated, and motivated. I have learned much more than I expected over this time and look forward to each of these classes as a highlight of my week. It’s also therapeutic as it involves my whole physical, mental, and spiritual (yes!) bodies, expressing myself in creative and joyful ways.

The online Zoom group classes are fabulous, the bond we have nurtured at the Studio amongst the students is very strong and supportive so it’s fantastic to be able to continue to see each other several times a week and join in together with a wide variety of, very often fun classes to keep us motivated. We can even ask questions as we practice! My fitness level is up, my mental focus sharpens and my dance knowledge is growing into different areas of dance.

A new phenomenon arose during this time that I refer to as COVID brain fog, sometimes it feels like your brain cells are atrophying, why on earth can’t I remember step patterns from one week to the next? My dance step and pattern memory are normally excellent so this took me by surprise. I guessed it was part of the overwhelm and the only thing to do is to keep persisting and keep practicing, I find some days are better than others.

But what I’ve also noticed is that over time, all these dance classes have had a huge positive impact on my emotional and psychological wellbeing. This is the lifeline I did not anticipate-the endorphins kick in each lesson and it’s so much easier to feel more positive about all the other issues arising around me. We’ve always had a high level of teaching and this has been maintained right throughout this time, online dance lessons have not compromised our learning. Every single class leaves me feeling safe, supported, inspired, and uplifted. I consider myself incredibly fortunate.”

“I have been a student at Dance586 for some years and really enjoy all the benefits it brings. Learning, socialising, exercise, music, and meeting new people who enjoy dancing as much as I do.

When we went into the first lockdown it was one of the activities I thought would be gone. After only one week, Sam, who has been my teacher since I began, rang to say there would be online lessons. I had no idea how this would look and I was a little anxious at the thought, but five minutes into the first lesson it felt comfortable and familiar. Now it is very normal and I look forward to my lessons. It really feels like I am in the same room with Sam.

An added bonus has been group lessons which began soon after and has introduced new styles of dance to me.

In these strange times, we are encouraged to ‘try to do something that gives you a sense of pleasure/achievement each day’. Routine is important and I really look forward to my lessons and maintaining the connection with Sam as well as other students and teachers in group classes.

It has meant a sense of normality in these extraordinary times and the transition back to ‘face to face’ at the studio will be welcome and easy because we have continued the contact and my love of dance.

I am really enjoying the experience and also looking forward to returning to the studio.

I am very appreciative that the studio has been so proactive which allows us all to continue.

Really interesting that the ‘close contact’ is within my own four walls now so there is a need to embrace our world as it is today.”

“What has 2020 been like for me? Well it started out great!

I had just completed a year at my new job and was loving it, I had a beautiful new niece born into the family and my parents and younger sister visited me from overseas ( whom I hadn’t seen in about 3 years) and then the progressive onset of COVID reached a peak and life spiralled into the “new normal”.

When the country went into lockdown at the end of March 2020, it was a terrifying situation because I never thought such a thing could happen in this world, we live in. Having family overseas meant there was a constant fear of “what if” and it was hard to really focus on anything.

In addition, the one thing that was such a big part of my everyday life , dancing, was in a state of limbo and I was scared for the wonderful team at Dance586 who I have grown to care for over the last 7 years as an extension of my family.

Thankfully, they quickly adapted to the situation and introduced the option to have private lessons online. I jumped at the chance to do this because I wanted to support the studio that I love but also because I missed my dancing and the conversations and camaraderie I used to share on lesson with Luis and Sam. I even re-arranged my living room, so I had more room to dance!

Having the lessons online, while not the same as being in the studio, have helped me on multiple fronts. It ensures I take a break from work and breaks up the day, It takes my mind off the situation we are in I’ve been able to focus on so many elements of dancing technique that I would otherwise not have done, because I would always have Luis or Sam to rely on.

It has kept me connected to this amazing community of dancers and friends. I have private lessons every night from Monday through to Thursday and they are the highlight of my day/week, working from home means you tend to lose track of when your day begins and ends and if it weren’t for Luis and Sam, I truly believe I would have struggled with the isolation. Luis and I have been working on a Jive routine that we will hopefully be able to do once we are back in the studio, whenever that may be.

Luis has kept me motivated by finding new ways to keep me still learning. Even when I am having a bad day, Luis and Sam are always able to make me laugh and forget my troubles for those 45 minutes and I am very grateful for it.

The group lessons have also been such a fun and energising introduction and something I would probably not have time to do in a pre-COVID time. It’s been great to learn a whole bunch of street latin dances with Alfonso and just let loose and have fun.

Jacqui’s exercise classes have helped me counteract ( to some extent) all the calories from the COVID stress eating LOL!

I’ve loved seeing the other students in the group classes too especially because I don’t get to see anyone much outside of the private lessons.

All in all, it’s been a tough 5 months with the various forms of lockdown, but the one constant for me has been my dancing and I’m looking forward to the day when this is all a distant memory and there’s dancing to be had back in the studio!”

“Dance 586 has been such an enjoyable part of my life from the moment I walked into the studio a number of years ago.  Before this, ballroom dancing was always something of a dream for me.

Then 2020 happened and the world changed. 
 As the COVID-19 situation unfolded and the studio closed it was difficult to comprehend what would happen.  

I remember feeling sad at the thought of not dancing, but also for the wonderful dance Teachers. Thankfully it was not long before online lessons were offered – both individual and group classes.  My veranda was immediately rearranged and renamed “ the ballroom”.

Quite honestly, the online dance lessons have been amazing!  A new challenge – yes, but thanks to the patience and encouragement of Luis I really feel my individual learning has continued – In a different way.  Not the same as dancing together of course.  What I didn’t expect was to understand so much more about structure and technique with having to dance alone.  

I  really believe I will become a better dancer for this experience once we are back in the studio.  What hasn’t changed is that lessons are always fun, include a laugh or two and always brighten my day.

Also, the group program has provided the opportunity to try new styles of Street Latin with Alfonso, as well as exercise fitness classes with Jacqui and now strength training with Luis.  Working from home means I can even join into lunchtime classes at times. Great online social events are now in the calendar – perfect opportunity to catch up with dancing friends.  

So much work has gone into this by all the Teachers and I am so grateful.   When the challenges  of 2020 seem overwhelming the lessons are definitely something to look forward to – thank you Dance 586!”