Dandelion’s students and families have been navigating COVID-19 for over a month, and developing new routines as best as they can. We are all experiencing a lot of change right now to our daily and weekly routines – but something that hasn’t changed is that our students continue to meet every week!
We are so happy to continue to offer online programming to girls across Ottawa and Gatineau – wherever and however they can connect. Most Dandelion dancers have been able to connect via the online platform Zoom. They are actually able to see each other, check-in, and dance – separate but together! Girls are dancing in their cozy bedrooms, on their back patios in the sunshine, or with their entire family in the living room. Dancers with limited or no internet access have been able to call into class and dance alongside on their phones. It’s wonderful how we have been able to work with our students and families in order to make sure that we keep connecting, creating, and supporting girls in our community!
We are happy to report that we have actually been able to continue with 100% of our programs, although we have had to adapt. To ensure that our students don’t spend too much time on their screens, we use the online component of our classes to connect, share, and generate ideas together. Then, every student is given extension activities to enjoy at home. The following week, the dancers have a chance to share what they’ve created, learned, and discovered from the safety of their homes.
Another perk of online classes is the fun that we have getting little peeks into each other’s homes. We have observed that it is a fruitful learning experience for dancers to have small windows into how each of her peers lives. We get to meet each others’ pets and siblings, wave to parents, and have moments of exposure to the rich cultural diversity of our dancers.
The Performance Company continues to meet online, twice a week, to support each other, discuss social justice issues, dance together, and create new work. We are thrilled to announce that Company members are currently creating – for the first time ever – a collective creation all online! It’s exciting to see how the Company members continue to challenge themselves artistically. Although we would prefer to be together in person, innovative ideas are pouring out because we are able to keep our community and connections alive in other ways.
Our relationship-centred programming is precisely why we are able to work so well online!
At this point in this collective physical distancing experience, most of us are really missing loved ones and good pals. We are feeling a lack of connection and we are craving ways to connect without physical contact. It is a relief to everyone at Dandelion that our programs can continue to provide girls with a safe space to express themselves and to feel the warmth of friendship and the joy of movement and creativity.
Because Dandelion dancers develop strong relationships with their teacher and their peers, meeting online has been quite successful. We remember the feeling of warmth in our in-person classes, and we are able to conjure up that feeling when we meet online. The emotional safety and wellness that we focus on building in our classes, from the very beginning of September each year, carries us now as we negotiate a new way of being together.
Dandelion dancers understand that there is no right or wrong in our classes and so they are able to leap and twirl and let the music carry them away – even in the awkward space between couch and dining room table! Our well-established culture of togetherness means that girls continue to encourage each other and show kindness across screens. And our student’s willingness to take risks as they continue “creating something out of nothing” every week has only grown. We are in unknown territory but our students are still creating dance works and not only surviving but thriving!
Try these Dandelion extension activities at home
Each week, as an extension to our online classes, Dandelion facilitators offer girls an at-home activity that they can do with their siblings, parents, or solo.
Here are a few favourites:
- Design your dream artist studio.
- Create a dance inspired by the words of a poem.
- Watch a video of the Angel City Chorale singing Rains in Africa. Then, create a soundscape of a storm using your body and/or items from around your house.
- Create a frozen picture of funny objects from around the house.
- Listen to the story, Fort Building Time, written by Megan Wagner Lloyd as you build your very own cozy, secret fort!
- Make a homemade postcard and send it to a loved one.