During the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai, dance teacher Wang Jiao found herself giving a lesson in a most unusual place-in front of the iron gate of a residential compound located 20 meters across the road from hers. Standing behind the gate was just one student, who was unable to leave the compound due to the lockdown.
“Some things can be taught online, but certain dance movements must be corrected in person,” says Wang, who was able to leave her compound because it was classified as a “precautionary zone” back then.
Since April, when Shanghai imposed stringent control measures across the city, Wang has been working on introducing online dance courses, which would allow her to mitigate the impact of a closure of the dance studio should the situation take a turn for the worse again.
“When students are unable to have face-to-face classes, the entire teaching plan is challenged. This requires the teacher to find new teaching methods that can encourage students to complete the courses without seeing the teacher,” says Wang, who moved to Shanghai in 2016 after opening her dance studio in Beijing in 2011.
Other dance instructors are doing the same. Tian Xinyu, founder of a ballet school, Santanova, was also forced to pivot toward online learning during the latest outbreak.
“In the beginning, most parents were skeptical about the quality of the online courses. As such, we conducted the first class for free. After seeing what was on offer, more and more people started signing up,” says Tian.
The 27-year-old says she first experimented with online teaching in 2020 amid the pandemic, and the experience gave her a good foundation for this year’s relaunch of the online classes.