In spite of isolation, online burlesque classes are going strong across Australia. Haven’t tried an online burlesque class yet? Well you’re in luck as the next term of classes is about to kick off thanks to burlesque schools around the nation.
A number of my Muse School of Burlesque students have been taking part in online burlesque classes during isolation while Muse has been closed. While they’re having a great time on all accounts, as with any major change, there’s always a few teething problems.
It’s been an epic effort for burlesque schools to move their classes online, and it’s wonderful to see so many students taking on classes digitally, but in case you haven’t had a go, or if you’ve experienced issues in previous classes, I’ve checked in with a few online teachers to discover just what you can do to make your online burlesque class a better experience.
We’re going to sort your space, your tech, your internet connection, your etiquette, and a couple of reminders to take with you to make sure you have fun.
Sort Your Space
It might feel sexy to have the lights down low as you get in to your dance class, however, with darkness comes bumps in the night! Unless your teacher suggests turning the lights down low for their class, it’s best to have good, strong lighting so you can see everything around you and keep yourself safe from calamity.
Move objects out of the way
Sure you’ve kicked stuff out of the way and have a bit of space to dance in, but take a second look and push everything away further than you expect to need. Dance classes can be energetic and as you repeat moves, you’ll shift your position and might find yourself much closer to the corner of that coffee table than you thought.
Everyone has a different surface to dance and practice on, and that means that everyone will move differently trying to keep up with the teacher. If you’re dancing on carpet, you might feel ok in bare feet, but if you’re wearing any kind of shoe for your dance class, you might find it hard to move smoothly. Rather than ditch the shoes, you could invest in a pair of ‘dance socks’ that you put on over your shoes to allow you to move smoothly and easily on carpet.
If you have wood or tile floors, you might find you’ve got more slip than you really want. Tiles are particularly unforgiving, cold and have hurt like hell if you misstep.
For tile floors, grab a rug or matt (with a rubber backing if possible) to dance on to make sure you don’t slip, and neither does your mat. If you’ve got wooden floors, you might be worried about damaging them floors with certain types of shoes, or you might be slipping more than you’d like. Why not try picking up a floor protector from your local office good provider to give yourself a plastic nonslip surface for your sweet moves.
Whatever you do, try and avoid wearing everyday socks, bed socks, and definitely avoid using a towel on the floor to dance on, as all of these can land you in a slip and fall that will see your dance course end much earlier than you’d hope.
Sort Your Tech
Choose a Large Screen
You’re going to see more detail and be able to follow along better the bigger the screen you’re using. Devices like phones might seem convenient, but try for anything bigger, like a tablet, laptop, or even a screen display. If you are using a portable device, make sure it’s secured in a stand or similar so it doesn’t slip and ruin your view mid class.
Cast to a big screen
Got a TV and a device that can screen cast? Why not use Airplay or Chromecast to stream from your device to a big screen so you can have the almost life size class experience.
Plug it in
Don’t be disappointed by an unanticipated empty battery. Set yourself up close to power and plug your charger in if you are using a device – just assume you’ll need the juice and plug in ahead of time.
Download and install the program being used for your class ahead of time. There’s nothing worse than struggling to get a program to work when everyone else is doing the warm up. If your class is in something like Zoom, it’s best to download the app to your device or computer and make sure you’re logged in in advance of your class. Test it a day in advance if you can.
And while you’re at it, check to see how your name is being displayed on the screen and adjust it accordingly – you might not want to turn up to class with your phone number as your name.
You want to see the teacher as best you can so make sure that you have clicked the ‘full screen’ view so the class fills your screen. If you’re using a video conferencing platform, be sure to choose ‘speaker view ‘rather than ‘gallery view’ so you can see up close and are not distracted by watching your classmates.
We all miss the social part of classes, but online classes aren’t really the place to chat. Also, if you don’t mute yourself, you are more likely to inadvertently star in your class by making a noise that puts your video up as the speaker instead of your teacher! I don’t know about you, but I’m not really looking to be the sweaty learner on screen in front of class mates.
Check the link
Some classes have a new class link each week, make sure you’re using the right link and have checked all your communication places for any news or changes ahead of your class time. It doesn’t hurt to test your tech and the link ahead of the class. Make sure the set up is right and you’re happy with how it all works.
Sort Your Connection
Your internet connection is arguably the most important thing you will need to have a good online burlesque class experience, so these are really important to consider.
If you see ‘Your connection is unstable’ or the loading/ thinking circle on the screen – the problem is at your end. It means there’s not a strong enough internet connection to allow the stream to run smoothly.
Get a dedicated connection
Are you sharing wifi with others in your house? If you’ve got a significant other, or someone in the house watching Netflix or using their computer when your class is on, they’re using the same internet connection as you with only so much bandwidth. Sadly, Australia has shit internet speeds so you don’t want to compete inside your own house.
Why not get a dedicated wifi dongle just for your online classes? You can pick up pre-paid mobile data dongles that you can use for your classes and give yourself a dedicated strong wifi stream for the best possible streaming experience.
Position and boost
If you do have a wireless internet connection, where your mobile source sits can make or break your connection. If you are located within an apartment block or in the bottom of a brick or concrete building, your wifi is going to struggle to give you a strong connection.
If you have a mobile wifi dongle, place it in a window, in a doorway to outside or other location where it’s able to gain a connection from outside. If you’re using your home internet but you’re located away from the modem, why not get a booster to help strengthen the connection to your device?
Leave your video off
Unless your teacher has asked you to have your video on, it will save your internet connection the effort of streaming your live video out at the same time it’s streaming the live class video back. You’ll have a much smoother experience if you mute and turn off video, and just focus on your teacher.
Timing is everything
If you’re still struggling to get a good internet connection, it might be to do with the time of day. Evening peak hour from 7-9pm is when internet is at the highest demand. If even after all the tips and tricks to improve your internet is still seeing your streamed classes stutter and stall, perhaps look for classes in another time zone and try out something earlier or later in the day and avoid the high traffic times.
Sort Your Etiquette
Your burlesque teacher is not your tech support
I’m only going to say it once, if you haven’t tried the tips in the tech section, do not ask your teacher during class for help with your tech. Excuse yourself in the chat section and sort your issues out. If you’re really struggling, if your teacher is lucky enough to have a support person in the chat, then ask for their assistance. Otherwise, maybe bow out and get the issue resolved before the next class.
You’re not the only person in the class
Yes you’re probably alone at home and it’s easy to think you’ve got a direct line to your teacher, but remember there are other people in the same situation as you and if one person starts talking on the call or requesting lots of extra personalised assistance, it’s going to take away from the class for others.
Leave social chatting to the end or to a dedicated social chat space, and check in with your teacher through the right channels pre or post class.
Don’t be tardy
Make sure you are ready to go when your class time starts. It doesn’t hurt to arrive early if you can, the conference call will open at the allocated time, but you can be there and ready to go for the moment it does. If you’re in the video conference’s waiting room, take the opportunity to stretch or keep moving to keep yourself warm rather than navigating away from the call and potentially missing being let in.
If your class is run on a live platform and you don’t need to access as a conference call attendee, if you do happen to be late, make sure to do your warm up or take things easy while your body warms up to make sure you don’t injure yourself.
Feeling challenging isn’t the end
If you’re having troubles with moves, don’t fret. Not all of us get everything right in class, that’s why you’re there, to learn. However if you’re struggling to understand or perfect a move, wait until your teacher asks how everyone is going to ask for clarification.
Alternately ask if your teacher can provide videos after for you to run through at your own pace. I know it’s really hard when you’re not feeling it or you’re just not getting it, but resist the urge to complain to your class mates during the class. Instead reach out to your teacher privately after, or ask if other students are having a similar trouble in your dedicated class group or communication spaces.
You won’t get personalised attention or assistance during class
If you want some help from your teacher, ask what the best options are before your class – perhaps you have a Facebook group for your classes you can post a video of you working through the moves or choreography in and tag your teacher asking for feedback. There might be other students having the same struggle or who overcame the same issue who can share their solutions with you.
Or perhaps you can send a message directly to your teacher asking for assistance on the move you are struggling with and your teacher can advise what kind of support they can provide.
Don’t instruct your teacher via the mic
It’s easy to do, you might think you’re being helpful commenting that a teacher should move closer to the camera, or further away, or to another position. Your teacher is probably positioned specifically because there is more to come and they have thought ahead for their class choreography.
If you’d like to see something closer or again, ask politely in the chat function, or reach out after class for it to be highlighted in the next class or perhaps with a supplementary short explainer video rather than calling out during the class.
Be ready for class
This is just like going to a regular class, get your shit together ahead of time! Have a bottle of water ready (with the lid on so you don’t spill it), a sweat towel to wipe yourself down, make sure wear the right clothing (as comfy as the jeans are, they’re not going to be the best option for your dancing).
Consider doing your own warm up ahead of class. Yes classes include a warm up, but if you are joining a class in a different state to you, the temperature in that location may be different which will change their warm up. So having a quick warm up jog around your house, up and down some stairs, a silly dance party groove, or even just doing jumping jacks to get the blood pumping will have you ready and raring to go as soon as that class goes live.
Remember: Kindness is Key
This is a stressful time for everyone. People are battling shit internet connections, sharing spaces with other people, and just facing the challenges of isolation. Your teacher may have lost a significant portion of their usual income and still have the same bills to pay and are trying to overcome all the same challenges as you. They are doing their best and how you speak and communicate with them can have a positive or negative effect on them – so it’s up to you to remember to start with kindness.
Dance classes can be great for your mental health, but we all need to support each other to ensure we’re not making things harder for each other. Think about how you can express kindness through your voice, your tone, what you write, and how you conduct yourself in these new online experiences. You can make someone’s day that much better if you choose.
Remember to keep the socializing till the end, but do make sure to give yourself an opportunity to connect with your fellow students whether it’s straight after class, in a chat group, or a dedicated class communication group. Share your wins, help build each other up if someone is having a hard time, be supportive, and remember how you feel when you’re not getting it. Worst case scenario, shake it off and give it another go next week. We all have bad days.