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For now, we can dance like nobody’s watching

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Canberra comes out of lockdown, but it will take some time until we can get back to enjoying life as we knew it.

Dining out is a far more regulated scene, school students are mostly still learning from home, and virtual fitness classes will remain the norm until at least the end of the month. So anything we can do that allows us to keep doing the things we love, while we wait for restrictions to lift, can only be a good thing.

Director of Dance Central (DC) in Phillip, Julie Scheer, has a unique perspective on life in lockdown. Not only has her business been severely impacted by COVID (twice), but she’s also the mother of a young dancer for whom studio time is a major part of her life.

She’s seen firsthand how the loss of social connectivity and regular activity has impacted young people.

“I learnt from last year’s lockdown just how important it was to be able to keep children’s extracurricular activities going. I saw that not only in my own daughter, but in our students.

“There’s so much uncertainty in our lives at the moment which the young people in our lives are feeling intuitively. Anything that’s familiar provides comfort amongst all the unfamiliarity.”

Dance Central’s Julie Scheer.

When Canberra was once again plunged into lockdown in August, DC was ready. After a one-week break to get logistics in place—and allow families some time to adjust to what was an initially overwhelming time—the studio moved to offer all of their classes via Zoom.

Now, eight weeks later, students aged two to 82 continue to look forward to their regular fix of virtual dance, music and fitness.

“Routines provide a sense of accomplishment and structure to the day, especially when the days can roll into each other,” says Julie.

“And when that regular activity offers a creative outlet, it brings a little bit of fun into what is a stressful situation for everyone.”

Fifteen-year-old Olivia Baker is a member of DC’s elite Open Troupe, and would usually spend around 12 hours per week in the studio. While class times have reduced during lockdown, she’s still connecting virtually every day with her teachers and troupe mates.

“Zoom classes have honestly been such a positive thing for me during lockdown. After spending most of each day on my laptop for school, it’s hard to get motivated – but then I go to dance and I’m in a really happy mood afterwards.

“DC’s teachers have been amazing, too—we’ve had weekly dress-up challenges, Zoom Olympics and even trivia nights! They’ve gone to so much effort to make it fun for us.”

Julie says the DC teaching team has really focussed on keeping their classes creative and exciting.

“Lessons have been personalised to incorporate themes and games to reassure students we’re present in the moment for them – it’s very different to just being in front of screen for another session where there is no engagement.”

But keeping active in lockdown isn’t just important for kids—as adults, we’re also feeling the Groundhog Day effect. Knowing that you can start or end your day doing something you enjoy with a group of familiar faces is good for more than your body.

“We all know the physical benefits of exercise—mobility, fitness, strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health—but the psychological benefits are just as important,” says Julie.

“And let’s face it—anything that can help reduce our stress levels during lockdown has to be a good thing!”

DC’s adult dance fitness classes are conducted under the DC Fit banner, and include everything from HIIT + Tone to Hip Hop, Barre to Ballet.

They’re conducted live in your living room (no travel time!) so you can interact with your instructor and classmates—and Julie says many members find virtual classes a gentle introduction.

“We’re learning that more members are joining because they can finally make it to a class, and human-contact Zoom classes are way more motivating and engaging than copying a pre-recorded video.

“It’s so nice when you can look forward to a class instead of dreading a workout; it’s a different mindset.”

FOR KIDS

Book into a free trial class during DC’s Open Week held from Monday 29 November to Saturday 4 December. Spaces are limited, so get in quick! Find out more at dance-central.com.au.

FOR ADULTS

Get DC Fit! This October, get DC Fit’s two-week introductory offer for just $39 (usual price $69). Just sign up to classes at dance-central.com.au or through the Mind Body App (look for DC Fit!).

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