Dancing through lockdown

The Dance Network Association (dna)

About dna…
dna is a dance organisation that enables people to live more connected, joyful and aspirational lives through dance. Dancing with dna provides opportunities for people to improve their confidence and physical wellbeing, nurtures creativity and independent thinking and enhances friendships through social interaction.
dna offers high quality, affordable dance to both the local community in Essex and the national community virtually.
Come and see what dna has to offer visit: www.dancenetworkassociation.org.uk

Dancing through with dna…

Now reaching the anniversary of lockdown 23 March 2021 we wish to share with you a whole host list of ideas of projects we have been delivering over this time to our community. Please, if inspired use these ideas for your own stimulus to get people dancing and share with us by tagging on socials #dancingthrough or come and join us for a class – we would love to see you dancing!

Social Dis-Dancing – We started lockdown 1.0 by offering 2 x full days of classes, one in April and one in May. We had a variety of dance classes from our full programme for each age range. It was a great way to connect with our current dancers and new people nationally as anyone could attend. We offered live and pre-recorded sessions across the whole day and people could pick and choose what they came too. Each session lasted around 30 minutes, so people were not locked onto screens for masses of time. We made sure we had enough time to really market the sessions so as many people could access the classes as possible. In total over 500 people joined the two dates and we raised £1600 in donations as a pay what you can afford programme.

Creative movement postcards – Since April we have been sending our adult dancers movement tasks on postcards. Many of these groups do not have access to technology so they are unable to join us in a Zoom setting or otherwise, and therefore we have stayed connected by sending them tasks on postcards. We have created ours for mass print but if you have a small group how wonderful to receive a hand written task? Tasks they can do in the comfort of their own homes. We have asked them to send us feedback by sending them a stamped addressed envelope and a reply postcard. Maybe you could even ask them to send you a task in return?

Dancing Through Lockdown Resource Book – We have created a ‘quick’ resource book on our ‘Canva’ design programme which includes a class from each of our practitioners. It has been offered to all our community via emailable PDF format but was printed and sent to all our dancers over Christmas.

Props Packages and DVDs – we have created and sent each of our dancers a props package and a DVD with 5 classes to keep them moving at home. The props package was also delivered in a particularly creative way through our project Doorstep Dancing. Two of our artists created a piece of choreography to show our dancers how to make the best use of their props. They have been dancing on our ‘dancers’ doorsteps to hand out these packages. For the DVD’s we teamed up with our local college who helped us to edit and get the films onto DVD format.

Winter Resilience – We created an online bank of short 3-minute videos for people to keep safe in their environments through the winter. Created initially for older adults to support prevention of falls in a facemask, we took this idea and thought about everyday tasks and then linked that to a movement / dance task that people could complete. The videos have all been created by our Dance artist simply filming herself on an ipad and uploaded to our YouTube channel. Each day throughout November 2020 these were released on our social media channel, but they have also been sent to all our community partners to share with care home and sheltered housing scheme residents each day. We have also created a couple of sides of A4 which will show a snapshot of the video and an explanation of how to follow the tasks for those again not able to access technology.

Postivi-TEA – We have been offering weekly social get togethers for those that can join us for a chat and a cuppa, and a little self-expression movement called ‘Dance Like No-Ones Watching’. Between us we chose 10 minutes of music tracks that are uplifting, and we just turn our cameras off and just move to the shared music! We come back after 10 minutes of movement to have a chat about our past week and what we have coming up in the next one. These sessions are so important to our core values as an organisation. In all our classes we have a social element which allows for peer support networks to grow and develop so that no one ever feels alone. So these tea moments are to keep these connections and friendships alive.

Instagram Live – we have struggled to communicate with our younger age group i.e 14 – 19 year olds but Instagram seems to be a fantastic platform for them. You can chat to them and they can ask you questions or comment on posts, but you cannot see them and neither can the rest of the world. It has been a great way to introduce ourselves to new young people but also stay connected and offer dance sessions to our usual groups. Especially in this ever-changing world we can quickly jump onto Instagram Live without any worries about lots of admin booking people in to Zoom etc.

Good old phone calls and letters – We have sent various letters to our dancers who are unable to get onto screens and laptops to keep in touch and see how they are doing.

Monthly Enews – We have been sending out monthly enews to our subscribers, which we hope is a monthly ‘pick me up’. Our Artistic Director includes her Joy List of 10 items which prompts people to think about taking time out for themselves and encourages self-care in these prolonged periods of lockdown. Our enews also highlight important information from partners which we feel should be shared and signposting of how people can access other services that link to our dance for health programmes, i.e to a dementia blog for at home activities or online dance performances to inspire, motivate and enjoy!

Created a playlist for our weekly listens – On our Spotify account our Artistic Director has been adding feel good tunes to her own weekly list which can be shared/followed, and we also have a separate list for Positivi-Tea and many of our classes which will support artists to find some new tunes for classes. But you can use these playlists to take part in your own daily practices of ‘Dance Like No-Ones Watching’, to set you up for the day or week ahead. We recommend choosing tracks that last 10 – 15 minutes in length. You can also create your own playlists and ask artists and dancers to add their favourites to the list too!

Dancing through- lockdown 2.0 – With thanks to the Culture Recovery Grant from the Arts Council, DCMS and HM Treasury we have been able to contract and deliver a new set of weekly classes. The idea here is to keep everyone dancing every day! #creatingdanceforall

In the October – November lockdown many of our classes were shared via YouTube engaging with as many people as possible which also meant people who have never danced before could come and have a go in the comfort of their own environments without feel self-conscious being in a class situation.

Dancing Through lockdown 3.0 – We moved our classes onto Zoom and are encouraging people to book live sessions but they can also view back and take part at home as all of our classes are recorded and put onto our website, for anyone who missed a class, and for people to dance along with between sessions.

We just want people to enjoy dancing and feel its positive benefits on their own wellbeing. We hope we have classes for everyone!

Full class descriptions are on our website: https://www.dancenetworkassociation.org.uk/springseason2021

We have classes for families and early years, for SEND settings, young adults, working adults, adults in general (old and young).

We hope after lockdown that these classes will move back into ‘in person’ live classes so we can truly connect but for now, we want to encourage people to take part in our sessions and engage in dance during lockdown and over the summer months.

All classes are free but if you can help support us and other to keep dancing beyond this pandemic, we would very much appreciate your donations! You can show your support here: https://www.dancenetworkassociation.org.uk/support-us

Ideas Hub

Published 7th April 2021

Gemma Wright dna

Gemma Wright

Artistic Director and Founder of dna