The Space, a dance turned TV studio and virtual learning platform, is embracing the distance learning practices that are becoming more and more common. Through their new platform, The Space TV, which launched earlier this year, founder Krista Miller and her team of talented instructors and choreographers are continuing to strive for bigger and better ways to bring dance to students around the world.
The instructors at The Space are excited about the opportunities online dance classes open up for dancers and teachers alike, but they know the change in format has its hurdles, too. We spoke to Krista and Autumn Miller, Mark Meismer, Lacey Schwimmer, and Todd Flanagan, all of whom teach at The Space, to get their advice on taking advantage of everything online studios have to offer.
What is a dancer’s biggest asset in an online studio?
Autumn Miller: I would say having a positive attitude, good energy, and accepting the process of learning as it is a whole new world we’re now working in.
Mark Meismer: Since you are training by yourself, outside of a classroom setting, you can step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself with new styles or skills that you might not be as comfortable doing in front of other people. It’s an amazing opportunity to train from the comfort of your own home and push your boundaries.
Todd Flanagan: It definitely teaches you patience. Online learning also opens new doors to those instructors that may be less accessible to learn from. A good way to get to know the artists’ style from afar.
What’s the best way to put virtual learning into practice?
Mark Meismer: It’s crucial to create space that doesn’t limit your movement and allows you to dance freely, whether that be your living room, garage, or makeshift studio. If you have access to your home dance studio, take full advantage of the space provided so you can learn and execute the choreography and technique correctly and full out. The Space TV lets you take classes anytime, anywhere, giving you flexibility and the ability to create a schedule that works best for you.
Lacey Schwimmer: I don’t enjoy practicing personally. I know I am the worst, but I have found that when I do practice I try to implement it into my daily activities. For example, I place towels under my feet and clean the floor while I practice rumba walks. You can try it but just make sure to hold onto something!
Krista Miller: It’s important to maintain a positive mindset and shift gears on how to learn, and in my case, how to teach. Adapting to changes, and keeping focused will create the best possible outcome.
How can virtual classes be paired with in-studio learning?
Autumn Miller: I think it’s just a plus. It’s a complete addition. It’s only going to make you better and add to your training to further yourself!
Krista Miller: The Brea Space has experience in a hybrid, online, and in-person training program, as we partnered with a dance studio in Las Vegas in the past year and taught classes for them. This program consisted of one of our staff members traveling and teaching on location once a week and two virtual classes each week. Although we can’t currently travel, it’s taught us that virtual classes are a great way to continue training and to reach distant locations. As a student, online training classes can be considered extra practice and help. It’s a great way to continue your training and gain new perspectives and techniques from different instructors.
Todd Flanagan: It gives equal access to instructors and/or students that may not be able to physically make it to the class. It technically allows you to be in two places at once.
What are some benefits to an online studio space?
Autumn Miller: It’s a little more personal and one-on-one because you can go at your own pace, and you have no pressure or judgment since no one is watching you, so you get to grow and make mistakes in a safe space.
Lacey Schwimmer: Education, reach, time. How cool is it that we now have access to any choreographer and teacher across the world at any given time? If you’re up at two o’clock in the morning, instead of going to the fridge and grabbing ice cream, take a dance class! Of all the craziness in the world, this is definitely a positive!
Krista Miller: Online training has given The Space TV an opportunity to reach different countries and studios across the United States. My typical schedule doesn’t always allow for me to travel to different places, so this platform really widens our reach and makes it possible for those seeking training to take classes with us. Plus, students can take a class in the privacy of their homes and try new styles that push them out of their comfort zone. It’s also convenient that on our platform in particular you can choose when you want to take a class.
What is the best way to get feedback in an online class?
Mark Meismer: It depends on the online class, but The Space TV’s live interactive Master Class events provide personal feedback and the limited capacity allows the instructor to focus and spotlight individual dancers. You can also gain feedback by tagging us in your social media posts, as we will often respond or repost what we see.
Krista Miller: Instructors look at multiple boxes (in online classes) so you need to find ways to stand out. Wearing bright colors, having a colorful background, and clearing space in your room can grab their attention. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions in live classes and utilize the time you have with the instructors. Dressing appropriately, staging, and working hard can also get you noticed in class. Instructors are usually drawn to individuals with a strong work ethic and motivation.
Todd Flanagan: Reach out. It’s that simple. Let the artist know that you’re training online with them and ask. Most artists’ are easily accessible through social media. Don’t be disappointed if they don’t reply, but it’s worth a try.
How do you stay motivated when taking online classes?
Lacey Schwimmer: Remember why you started taking classes in the first place. What is your goal? What do you want out of this class? Have a positive mindset and goals going into a class versus taking the class because you have to. It’s all about mindset. It’s all about goals. It’s all about getting through this and seeing it to the end!
Krista Miller: Stay motivated by creating a goal for yourself and keep working toward it. Most online classes can be taken at your leisure, so you can really create a schedule that excites you. Also, recognize that training online will ultimately help your technique for in-person classes, plus performances. If you set goals for yourself and recognize what you’re doing is worth it and contributing to that goal, it will hopefully keep you more motivated and excited for classes.
Todd Flanagan: My advice is to know that you’re still growing even if it’s through a screen. It can get redundant, so try to switch it up at times. Maybe ask a friend to join in! No doubt, there’s nothing like taking your favorite class “In-Person”, but the more pro-active you are in your education, the better your outcome is going to be. Never stop growing.