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The unexpected advantages of online dance instruction

Updated: May 7, 2020

Lindy hop is a dance of connection. But we are seeing now more than ever that nothing stops lindy hoppers from connecting, even if we can’t physically touch. Though in-person classes, physical connection, and a physical feedback mechanism are all necessary for proper dance growth, it just so happens that online instruction has its advantages.

1. Going at your own pace = going at a faster pace.

Students who learn from an online video course are able to go at their own pace and not be encumbered by the collective pace of a whole class.

For me, this is the greatest strength of online classes.

In a physical group class, even dancers who are around the same ability-level will vary widely in which parts of the lesson they need to spend 30 seconds on, vs 30 minutes on. So if you’re like me, you can replay that same 10 second clip of instructions 50 times without stalling an entire class. And similarly, you can just breeze through that one section you’ve already got on-lock - all without steamrolling another student who needed more time on it.

That means you spend exactly the amount of time you need on a skill, and none of the time you don’t. Video instruction eliminates wasted time and puts you on the high-efficiency fast track to individualized dance growth.

2. We’re no longer geographically-bound

So your favorite teacher lives in Sweden, but you’re in a city 8,000 km away. Video learning scoops up those thousands of kilometers of separation, hectic mismatching schedules, and all the costs of travel and lodging -- and casts it all aside! It makes dance instructors no longer bound by their location but instead opens up more avenues for teacher and student to connect. It’s 2020 baby. Our politicians may keep trying to give us reasons to divide, but the internet is giving us ways to unite.

What's more is that online classes drop the commute altogether. No more 45 minutes of traffic, car horns, stinky metros, or gasoline expenses just to get to the venue. You're already there.

3. Students have more control over what and when they learn.

Do you remember the days when what you watched on TV was just … whatever was on TV? Netflix is to TV in the 90’s as video courses are to attending in-person classes.

It’s learning-on-demand.

When you can select exactly the class at exactly the time you’re ready to take it, you have more control, more flexibility, and more power over targeting the places in your dancing that really need the most attention.

4. We're more time-efficient

You don’t have to be at a certain place at a certain time.

You’ve heard the old complaint, “Another meeting that could have been an email.” Taking a class from an online video is like the dance equivalent of turning an unnecessary meeting into an email. Sometimes, you can be far more productive when you can log-on on your own time. You forego the time spent getting ready, commuting, checking in, waiting for the class to start, etc. And you gain the ability to start the class exactly when you’re ready, or even to squeeze in 10-minute chunks of it when you have a moment to spare.

Think of yourself like The Doctor, but with better rhythm: time traveling to and from your favorite class on your lunch breaks.

5. Happily embrace your inner slob

Before, getting your dance on meant checking off a toilsome roster of do's, don'ts, and drags. Now, dancing from your living room allows you to

  1. Skip the time-consuming tedium of the mandatory pre-dance shower, followed by doing your hair, makeup, or really, getting dressed at all. Depending on whether you're also broadcasting your own video, pants are altogether optional.

  2. Eat whatever you want before the dance. Craving onion soup, fried fish, roasted garlic, and side of beans? No problem.

The setbacks.

There are certainly setbacks of online video lessons.

Perhaps the greatest one is the lack of direct feedback from the teacher who’s watching you practice. What if you spend 30 minutes mastering those Tacky Annies, but unbeknownst to you, the way you’re drilling them into your muscle memory is mostly just … tacky? I love what Jo Hoffberg and Kevin St Laurent say at iLindy,

“The old saying “practice makes perfect” can be improved upon by applying a small variation, “perfect practice makes perfect.” If you practice something wrong 1,000 times, you’ll be really good at doing it incorrectly.”

The solution? Online privates with a real human. It really pays to have a teacher’s oversight and mentorship so that you don’t mistakenly get really good at being really bad.

Until we’re all back at our dance studios, we recommend a well-balanced diet of video courses, independent practice, and real-human feedback.

And until then, we might just find online instruction is a hellavuh lot more effective than we thought.

What do you think? Is online instruction for the birds? Or are there significant strengths to it? Comment with your pros and cons and we'll add them to the list!

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