It is a surprise progression, but in some ways a natural one, that DWP members have moved their weekly practice class onto video. Ascendance was already using video to promote the impact and benefit of its work and exploring 360 video technology to capture both the interactive nature of the group and the individuality of each member.
It is hard to lose the simple sensations of spacious airy venues, the tribal power of the dance circle and the human interaction of mutual physical support as we move. But a whole different medium presents opportunities as well as challenges. Interactive webclasses give us things we never had before. The most practically useful one is a virtual mirror, allowing us to see, understand and develop our own movements in just the same way professional dancers have always done in the studio. Now we still receive encouragement and suggestions from the dance teacher, but we can also interact with our own image on screen.
Our physical space for dance is restricted, but we can travel further virtually – we dance with one another in our own homes, in kitchens, sitting rooms, bedrooms, conservatories and even gardens. We see one another in a new light: each in their own home environment or sometimes against a virtual background where imagination runs wild to the beach or outer space. The confinement of our ‘box’ screens also gives us new markers and borders to use in our dancing. The close focus of computer cameras means that all-important hand movements are magnified and amplified on screen. Remote management of the classes means that everyone is focused on the same view simultaneously – often on other participants as we play together with new moves and compete and riff on what other people are doing. We may no longer be able to hold hands, but the spirit of the circle is alive and well in the squares of the Zoom screen.
When we go back to in-person classes at a venue, we will have the technology to offer simultaneous video attendance for those unable to travel that day. Nothing will be the same again, but some things will be better!
Class Participant / Carer