How are you managing with your dance classes at home? First of all, are you doing any classes? It’s really not a crime if you don’t feel like it. Things are pretty weird at the moment. There’s also so much out there online that you can end up feeling huge overwhelm and not doing anything. And that’s ok!
At the beginning of May I bought a double-sided roll-up Home Practice Tap Dance Mat from Dance & Stage. I’m now doing all my live classes in the living room, so my solution is a set of interlocking foam squares, topped with my interlocking dance floor, and then I put the roll up mat on top. It’s great! It’s not slippery, it dulls some of sound and it just feels great to dance on. When I’m doing recorded classes or just jamming, I use my portable wooden tap floor in the garage (which is also on top of foam tiles for shock absorption). It’s really important for your joints that you don’t tap on concrete or tiled floors as there’s none of the shock absorption you usually get from a dance studio sprung floor. Try foam tiles, a rug, or even a blanket or towel underneath a hard surface.
I have all these flooring options at home because I’ve been doing tap for 5 years and am obsessed and decided to invest in creating a home dance studio so I can practice regularly. You might not have any of these flooring options, or you might not be able to tap at home because you’re in a flat/apartment and would be bothering your neighbours…so instead you might want to:
- Go through the steps in your socks on carpet (a bit of soft shoe!)
- Do some practice outdoors in trainers on grass or on your cushioned board if you have one (as I said, cement and tarmac will kill your knees)
- Clap out the rhythms or hum them to cement them in your head (dah-dee-dah-dee-dah-dah!)
- Building on that last point, have a go at body percussion! (I will try to post a bit of the body percussion that I learnt on Saturday at some point)
- Do an online musicality class for tap dancers and get up to speed with your quarter notes, triplets and sixteenth notes – I attended a free one by Sarah Reich on Instagram at the weekend
- Watch loads of amazing tap online to be inspired (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook)
- Watch the old movie musicals such as Singing in the Rain (1952), An American in Paris (1951), Easter Parade (1948), Broadway Melody of 1940, Stormy Weather (1943)
- Watch Gregory Hines’ movies White Nights (1985), Tap (1989), The Cotton Club (1984), and Bojangles (2001)
- Read up on tap dance history
Make it happen!
I’ve been working from home for a month now, but from Monday I will officially be on ‘furlough’ for a minimum of 3 weeks, under the UK government’s Job Retention Scheme.
It’s my 10th anniversary of working for this charity, and I had been thinking a few months ago that I could really do with a sabbatical…but these circumstances aren’t exactly what I had in mind. The reduction in pay is thankfully cancelled out by having stopped my travel season ticket payments. Shows just how expensive train travel is!
I’ve been asked by a couple of people what I’m going to do with the time. ANYONE who knows me knows that I ALWAYS have projects on the go! I won’t go crazy trying to do all of this list, but I have some of the following to keep me occupied:
- My soap biz – I want to practice the cold process some more, continue to sell off old stock online and do some social media posts, as well as getting online orders out.
- Jobs around the house – spring cleaning, replacing peeling wallpaper in our bedroom, decluttering.
- The garden – keeping it tidy and watered. I’m also trying to grow tomatoes and propagate plants from cuttings! I was given a Garden Design online short course for my birthday, which I might have a crack at.
- Tap dance – weekly rhythm tap classes continue from the first week of May, plus I’ll keep practising in my garage. Tap & Tea Thursdays on Zoom continue for at least another 3 weeks.
- Exercise – I’ve been doing 80s aerobics plus some ballet barre exercises and stretching in the garage every week day around 5pm. This must continue!
- Study – I have the final 2 modules of my HR Practice studies to complete, both of which include a filmed skills test. I’m more used to speaking to the camera since the lock-down!
- Writing – I love to write! And obviously I’ll keep writing this blog 🙂
There are also downtime things like reading books and magazines, chatting on the phone and messaging friends and family, quiz nights, jigsaws and games, catching up on TV shows and my mindfulness interior design colouring book :)) Plus we have church online at the moment.
For continuity and so I don’t feel weird when I go back to work, I plan to continue joining my team’s daily catch-ups online, but just on Monday mornings.
On Thursday we had our final tap class of the term. About 15 minutes before it was about to start, I suddenly remembered we needed to move the broadband router to the back of the house again so that I could get WiFi in the garage, where I can use my tap board. It didn’t work! And the broadband refused to work altogether… Until there was literally 4 minutes to go, and it came back on.
I RAN back into the house with the laptop and ended up joining the class from my living room, wearing plimsolls on a hard floor. Not ideal, but it was fine as a one off! (In amongst all this drama, my SO decided to make a batch of biscotti using a recipe from one of my colleagues, and burnt them, creating a load of smoke in the kitchen, which was about to set the smoke alarm off in the LIVING ROOM at any minute! I shut the door. Disaster averted!)
I was really pleased to hear that we will (hopefully) be continuing online tap classes after the Easter holidays, so we have that to look forward to. Our teacher sent us a video of our entire routine to work on during the break, and she asked us to send her videos of us doing it if we’d like to – (it doesn’t need to be perfect… and I assure you, it won’t be!) along with a video of the choreography homework she set us last time, which I’ve done already.
How has the past week been for you?
I had some wins with work, did a few workouts in the garage and enjoyed catching up with colleagues on Lifesize every morning and family and friends by WhatsApp, phone call and Zoom. I also made a delicious Chicken, leek & celery soup, topped with crispy bacon, which I’ll try and share with you later.
Hope you’re able to get outside and enjoy the sunshine ☀
This week I was able to attend my tap class via the Zoom app! At 2pm on Thursday we got together online to catch up how each other are doing in lockdown, to warm up to Paul Simon’s You can call me Al, and to learn a bit more of our routine! I did the class from my garage gym/dance studio and my SO managed to drag the broadband router to the back of the house so I could get WiFi down there. It was a lot of fun and just really nice to see everyone’s faces and catch up.
Our teacher is sending us a video of the routine so we can practice, and we have also been given a bit of homework – to come up with something for 8 beats that can be used in a call-and-response section of the routine!
Last Saturday I got out into the garage to do some tapping and keep my activity levels up… and I filmed some for you! I wore anklet socks over the front of my tap shoes to reduce the tinny sound it makes on the tap board – a tip I picked up from someone in a tap forum.
Hope you’re doing OK.
Lifelong Dance Student x