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4 January 2021

On starting my DDE in Imperial Classical Ballet and Modern Theatre in September 2019, I was content with the idea of being a long-distance student and only travelling from Cork, Ireland to Romford, England, every month or so.

I was working part time and studying to be a Personal Trainer, so the prospect of distance learning appeared to fit perfectly into my then ‘normal’ life and schedule. At that point in time, Covid-19 wasn’t even a word in our vocabulary, little did we know then, the impact it would have on all our lives.

 

Lockdown in Ireland

I began teaching for my own teacher Miss Sinead Murphy (FISTD) in January 2020. However since then, I have taught in a studio for 21 weeks at most. While I feel beyond fortunate to be pursuing a career which has been my passion for nearly 20 years, I did not expect an introduction like this!

On March 12 2020, Ireland essentially went into lockdown. This brought Unit 1 and Natalie Lane (LISTD) into my life. We later joked how we felt like pen pals, having never met  but being in such regular contact! 

During this time, I was awarded a bursary for my DDE in Imperial Classical Ballet. I feel so fortunate to have received this - the financial help has enabled me to further my knowledge and inspires me to keep learning even on days when I feel like I am stuck in a ‘fáinne fí’ (Irish for vicious circle) of mundane lockdown life. 

 

The benefits of online teaching

As I imagine we all have, I've found the disruption of the constant opening and closing dance schools due to Covid-19 extremely difficult. Once I start to feel I am making progress and becoming more confident in teaching, we have to shut again. On the plus side, I am very grateful that Miss Sinead is entrusting me to teach online.

Zoom has been extremely useful and beneficial, giving me the opportunity to watch Miss Sinead teach more often and to observe how she interacts with the children. While it may not be an ideal scenario, I am learning to adapt my teaching to different environments and gaining experience. 

As clichéd as it sounds, every cloud truly does have a silver lining. Zoom has enabled me to interact more with my teachers in England and I am extremely thankful. I had only been to ACS in Romford four times to study with Helen Steggles (FISTD), Diana Clifford (FISTD) and pianist Stuart Rush before overseas travel essentially stopped; thus my learning for Unit 4 had been quite spread out and sporadic.

I am now fortunate enough to participate in weekly classes online. Had this not be an option, it would be coming up to a year since I have been in Romford physically studying for Unit 4. We have developed a Zoom DDE family and everybody is so supportive. We have met each other’s family, pets and even Helen’s postman! Without Zoom, we would not have experienced such precious moments together while learning and learning to learn in such a modern way.

 

Learning during the pandemic

This pandemic has given us all a time to reflect and appreciate the simple things. It has also given me the fantastic opportunity to complete a myriad of Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing CPD courses, the Online Summer School and become certified in Progressing Ballet Technique. I came away from all of these courses inspired, motivated and excited for the future. 

I was in awe of how I had spent the day being taught by such knowledgeable teachers, and surrounded by so many experienced teachers from around the world (although imposter syndrome definitely kicked in when we all had to ‘unmute’ and introduce ourselves and explain our levels of experience!). At that stage, I had been teaching for less than 2 months and mostly assisting other teachers, and seeing myself in these Zooms with such wonderful, highly qualified, experienced teachers, felt surreal.

Everybody is eagerly awaiting their first holiday abroad when circumstances allow, but I am yearning simply for a flight to the UK for time in the studio, to see my DDE family and to undertake my Unit 4 Exams.

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