We caught up with Zoe Dawson, Principal of the South London Dance School in Herne Hill to find out how she has adapted her business during the Covid-19 crisis.

I would never have thought it possible to teach dance any way other than in person in a studio.  Dance is a physical and collaborative art form which needs plenty of space to travel and close supervision by a qualified or experienced teacher who can guide correct technique as well as sensitively develop performance and musicality.  I believed all of these things needed person to person interaction and contact.  But two months ago, after the announcement of Covid-19 ‘lockdown’, we couldn’t quite believe we were facing the unprecedented challenge of bringing the joy of dancing to the homes of our students and to keep the business, which is a Community Interest Company, afloat.

So many of our students desperately wanted to continue with their favourite hobby (or vocation) and stay in touch with their much-loved dance teachers, that we needed to find a way to teach them in their homes.  It also became evident that we needed to find a solution quickly as we understood that maintaining some normality in routine and physical exercise could help withfeelings of isolation and loneliness.

We needed to find a way for as many as possible of our students to be able to participate so that they would be able to benefit from continuing dancing during this time.  Therefore, we introduced our Covid-19 Bursaries for Young Dancers Scheme, through which we are supporting children of our school whose families are experiencing severe financial difficulties due to the current situation.

In setting up our live and pre-recorded dance classes there were numerous technical challenges to overcome such as the time delay in live classes making it impossible to stay in time with the music, which was of course, a major problem for tap dancing lessons. Also, our fantastic team of teachers needed to adapt their teaching methods in order to keep their classes engaging and effective on screen.

Most recently, we have decided to open up some of our classes to children and adults who are not currently students of our school, so do get in touch if you are interested in getting more information about our fun online ballet and tap classes for boys and girls from 2 years upwards, or our exciting modern and street dancing classes for ages 5 upwards.  We are Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) qualified and many of our classes are syllabus based.  We are also providing a range of dance classes for adults of varying ability and private lessons for both children and adults.

Remember; when choosing online classes, please look for qualified and experienced teachers who can safely and effectively guide your learning at home, they must also have an up to date DBS check in place.

Online dance classes are not a long-term solution as we know it’s vital to be able to move around the space of the dance studio to develop breadth and flow of movement, also for the unique and wonderful feeling of freedom when dancing.  We also realise that no online dance class can ever come close to replacing learning to dance in person with a known and trusted dance teacher, or the social interaction of dancing alongside your ‘dancing friends’.  So, we wait with anticipation to be allowed to return to South London Dance Studios, which to many is our ‘second home’, so that our community of dancers can once again be together.

If you would like more information about our online classes (what better time to try out a new skill?!) or are interested in sponsoring a young dancer through our Covid-19 Bursaries for Young Dancers Scheme, please visit www.southlondondanceschool.co.uk or contact us: infosouthlondondanceschool@gmail.com.

Keep dancing and stay safe ; )

Zoe Dawson
Principal, South London Dance School, Herne Hill