Business by Fear or Innovation: Should you Even Start Teaching Dance Online?

Currently, we are experiencing a global pandemic, and online classes are the only option for many dance professionals. Once this passes, however, dance teachers and studios will need to decide whether to continue with their online efforts. As I watched so many studios jump online, I found myself questioning how many had even asked their students if that was something they wanted, whether currently or in the long term. As much as I love to see so many more options, I understand that for many, this is only a temporary business move.

About a week into this, I received an email from the owner of the main studio where I was taking class, asking about how we would prefer them to do online lessons if they were to launch. What I told them was this: I already have some held up for private lessons, and so I am not able to spend much more for online lessons right now, but I would support in any way I can. I think this experience is an important one to share because even I as a hype girl for digital dance will not always be able to support what I want to. Of course, I want my dance studio family to make it through this situation, but realistically I cannot be a patron for the long-term if I exhaust my resources now. I am more grateful that my studio owner took the time to reach out and ask before launching online because it shows they are mindful of our needs outside of their business, and how that may impact our choices as dancers.

Those of you who already have online classes going should be asking your students for feedback consistently so that you can make changes to improve your online dance teaching system. For my dancers who are considering launching an online program for your students, I highly recommend that you gather feedback before to help you choose what system may work best, or if your students are even thinking about online dance classes right now.  Here is my list of three essential questions you should ask your students before designing your online class program.

  • Are you interested in [Our Studio]/[Me] Teaching Online?
  • I will be teaching through [Platform], do you have access to this?
  • Are you interested in online only, or as a supplement to physical classes?

Launching your students into an online program can bring more value, but it does require an upfront investment of time to research your students’ needs and test new technologies. Every dance studio and teacher will have their own unique client needs and learning how to ask about those needs is an essential skill for the future of teaching dance online.

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