12 February 2021 14:28

DisDanced: What we learnt in 2020

Toward the end of last year, we asked our members, what they had learnt during 2020 as a consequence of COVID-19 – what positive experiences would they carry forward, and what further support we could give?

The majority of responses were from RAD Registered Teachers, but we were given insights from all membership categories on how people kept dancing and teaching through the pandemic.

What stood out, was the important role of dance for good mental health and wellbeing, and the role teachers are playing in promoting its benefits beyond just the physical.

Lockdown also demonstrated the importance of dance, and the arts in general, in our lives and as well as the ability of teachers and the arts sector to adapt to new ways of thinking and teaching.

Resilience, resourcefulness and community

Although there were adverse effects on all aspects of life, we were delighted to see so much resilience and positivity.

When asked “What have you learnt as a result of your Covid-19 experiences?” teachers spoke of their fight to keep their classes going along with the support that they had received from fellow members.

Others showed how they had managed to unlock their potential in other areas, taking advantage of the opportunity to broaden their skills and to find new experiences both on and offline.

Challenges and consequences

Responses also highlighted that despite the negative impact of the pandemic and the financial difficulties experienced by dance teachers, their concerns were mainly focused on delivering the best for their students and looking after their mental wellbeing.

Despite the innovative ways that teachers have found to teach online others lamented the lack of in-person interaction, realising that there is no substitute for being in a dance studio with a qualified and experienced dance teacher. Nothing, it seems, nothing compares with face to face, in-person teaching, although an unintended consequence of lockdown has been an increased sense of spacial awareness for students having to practice social distancing.  

It has, however, been very good for many parents to see and understand the value of dance classes to their children and in some cases to see a class for the first time and to appreciate the hard work that goes into it.

2021 and beyond

Our next question asked, ‘What is one positive thing that you have experienced throughout Covid-19, which you will carry through to the future?’ Responses showed the dance community’s ability to embrace change, to keep dancing in the face of adversity, and also brought into focus the diverse needs of students.

The limitations wrought by the pandemic highlighted the important contribution that dance and dance teachers make to students’ general health and happiness, particularly the positive impact of dance on mental health.

Teachers also took advantage of the many online courses we’ve offered and made the most of staying connected to the RAD and to other teachers in the dance community.

The pandemic also changed the perception – held in some quarters – of children as disengaged and unenthusiastic, with teachers witnessing their motivation and dedication to online classes. Teachers also spoke of having found new purpose for themselves in embracing change and finding new strategies to keep working.

Finally, we asked respondents to choose three ways in which the RAD could support them post-COVID-19, and to rank these in order of importance. These were to provide:

  • practical tools and resources for the Members’ Area,
  • guidance on legislative matters and responsibilities, and
  • an online member discussion forum.

These were followed closely by a call for youth-focused content and teaching ideas

We are constantly providing new resources for the membership area and will continue to update this as new tools and materials become available. We will also explore the viability of an online forum as part of the ongoing development of the members’ area.

Let’s Keep talking
These survey responses will be used to shape our work to improve the membership scheme, but, the conversation doesn’t stop here, We want to hear about your experiences and observations during lockdown. Email us at marketing@rad.org.uk and we may feature your story on our website or on social media.