An insight into the lockdown lives of the Dance North Team

Gail Sneddon – Dance DevelopmentGail Sneddon
We launched our online classes around 3 weeks ago. After getting over all my concerns around safeguarding, injury prevention and how can we can continue to have a creative practice whilst all in our little boxes and without it being a bit crap, I have actually started to enjoy this small connection we are allowed to have with our dancers. Each class brings a new insight into how to communicate and how to adapt our practice to allow us to still connect with our bodies and each other and it has also enabled us to get to know the wider families of participants including cats, dogs and hamsters.

A great positive that has come out of this situation is that Balance in Glasgow have moved their yoga classes online!!  Moving to the north, I greatly missed my weekly dose of Maureen Smith and Gerry Kielty’s in depth, precise and hugely nourishing practice. Now I’m doing at least two classes a week.. thank you Balance!!

I’ve started doing the online Gaga classes with Gaga People. This Saturday’s class had 260+ people in attendance from all over the world. It’s a strange experience.. me dancing around in my private space alone … but still connected to these other strangers. After you get over yourself a bit its a really great experience to loose yourself in your body, feeling through a wide range of movement textures that have been restricted and contained for weeks. I feel that during lockdown I have become just a head; just a cerebral entity, everything reduced to a head and a screen… I get tearful at the end of the sessions when the music is still playing and all the mics are turned on and person after person is saying thanks and goodbye and logging off until your back in your room again.

Diane Smith – ProjectsDiane Smith
I often thought “I wish the world would stop for a couple of months to let me catch up”. Then I could get ahead on work projects and finally file or deleted the 3000 work emails, 9000 personal emails, 10,000 images on several hard drives and 9,000 photos on my dying phone.  I’ve been shielding for eight weeks now, and I’ve never thought about them!

I’ve been more than happy to be immersed in the deluge of online content including webinars, fitness classes, family and friends Zoom social events, playlists and got lost in YouTube for hours. I’ve finally built an Instagram page stored with my #lockdownwalk #lockdownsnaps and set up a street COVID-19 Facebook page to connect with neighbours. For work, I keep a room open so colleagues can join me for work or just for a coffee. I’ve enjoyed Chris Packham’s Live reports from New Forest,  the Woodland Trusts live Osprey Nest cam, and Grayson’s Art Club and Gardeners World on the old fashioned TV keeps me calm.   I have been outside,  honest!

Karl Jay-Lewin – Creative DirectorKarl Jay-Lewin
Despite the current challenges, many people are reporting being less stressed than ’they used to be’. I feel less stressed, but also sometimes less productive. I do a daily yoga class with an imaginary teacher.  It lasts 30-60 mins and she helps me stay focussed – Karl, pay attention –  on my practice and not on what the neighbours are doing in their garden. I’ve also done my first ever Gaga dance classes, online with teachers in New York and Tel Aviv (see Gail’s entry above).

The extraordinary Nancy Stark Smith died 1st May.  If you knew her to any degree you would, like me, be grieving this loss, yet celebrating her endless giving to the world of dance and beyond. Here is a video of a few minutes of Nancy’s teaching .  Try it out with one of your household … or yourself … or a tree.

Here’s a recommendation… To  Be Continued is not dance, although it has some dancing in it, and it’s made by filmmaker Becky Edmonds who has a long history in dance. It’s a truly moving and beautiful piece of work based on the stories told in a collection of journals that were found, 21 years ago, in a pile of rubbish.

Liz Egan – FinanceLiz Egan
This all came as a bit of a shock (understatement of the decade). Workwise I have gone from full on panic, to relaxing a bit, to settling into a new set of normals. Budgets, reports and compliance don’t stop, they just take on new content. I still keep up with my colleagues on a daily – sometimes hourly – basis and feel like we’re doing OK. Strong support from our funders and partners has been immensely reassuring.

Personally I’m doing OK and I try to keep being aware that while this is relatively safe for me, up here shielded from the worst of this, it is a catastrophe for so many. It’s not a time for flippancy. I know that the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society suffer at a disproportionate level.

And! When I’m not at my computer for work, I do the following: peek into the lives of my family and friends on Facebook; watch telly; knit (badly); go running (slowly); chat on WhatsApp with old friends; do online quizzes with my family; home school (with varying degrees of success); PE with Joe Wicks!

What I’m not doing is: reading all the improving books I promised myself I would; going round online art galleries; learning a new language 🙁

Tiffany Broadfoot – Dance Tutor
After launching our online classes for youth groups 3 weeks ago via Zoom this feels like is becoming an enjoyable norm for the foreseeable future. I’m enjoying the ability to offer more classes to the youth groups from the comfort of their own homes as well as introducing the students to more content and styles. This has been a great and challenging learning experience for me, however, it has allowed me to connect back with the dancers who I absolutely love working with.

A positive for me is that I am actually connecting with my friends and family more during these times due to having a little bit more free times, meaning I am having catch ups, quizzes and family debates all from the comfort of my own sofa (of course I always win !). It has allowed me to virtually celebrate so many more birthdays and celebrations than I thought I would get the change to do due to living so far away from my family… Now I have no excuses going forward to continue these celebrations with all my loved ones.

Having a bit more free time has allowed to do some online training which I never thought I would have had the time to do previously, it has allowed me to really engage and look into safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure the content we deliver online is safe and most importantly our dancers are safe.

Lastly a favourite part of my week every week is Wednesday at 11am ! This is the time we as a team log on to Zoom and have our weekly huddle, a time we are all together again, sharing ideas, creativity and what we have been working on. This time on a Wednesday allows me to still see the amazing team of people I get to work along side.

Hayley Russell – FundraisingHayley Russell
While lockdown restrictions have, in many ways, been challenging, I have found myself connecting more with friends and family in different parts of the world, from Bristol and London, to Hong Kong, Canada, USA, Australia and Spain. With everyone forced to slow down, it has enabled us to find the time to Zoom, WhatsApp, and Houseparty with each other – something that I, personally, have been very appreciative of. In addition, I have started life drawing again. The online classes have been a really fantastic way to focus the mind amidst the current environment, and re-engage with some creative activity.

I can also highly recommend The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Big Read which posts daily readings by well-known actors, musicians and authors accompanied by contemporary artworks. It has been an excellent way to start each day!

Ellie Davies – MarketingEllie Davies
There have been lots of ups and downs for me over the last few weeks – I felt a real sense of loss and demotivation after all our events were cancelled or postponed and as the team member who primarily focusses on promoting those events I was left wondering ‘well, what is there for me to do now?’ Slowly we’ve all been adapting and finding our feet, overcoming digital challenges and trying to figure out how best we can bring dance to our local community during this time. I miss going to the office though! With two small children at home, going to the office was like going for a rest!

Being at home I’ve really noticed the changing season and seen so much more of the beautiful countryside on my doorstep; watching frogspawn hatch into tadpoles with the kids, daffodils, cherry, violets and wood sorrel blossoming and now finally the leaves really coming out. I’m glad to be here to appreciate it.  Aside from for work and an online contemporary dance class with Sharon Took-Zozoya once a week, I’ve been trying to limit how much time I spend online, reducing my personal time on Facebook to half an hour a day. The kids keep me busy the rest of the time and I just want to be outdoors when the sun shines!