While people across the country have felt the effects of the Corona virus, the overwhelming sense of community and people coming together to help their family and neighbours has been felt strongly. We’ve seen charities adapt the services they offer to help reduce isolation and help the most vulnerable and isolated members of Oulton and Woodlesford feel less alone. D Dance Theatre had to cease holding classes a number of weeks ago to help keep their members, many over 60 as safe as possible. The temporary loss of these classes, coupled with being asked by the government to isolate at home for up to 12 weeks was a daunting prospect to members who take pride in being largely independent and self sufficient but look forward to their weekly dance classes. For many these are also a social gathering with many ladies visiting local coffee shops after class for a chat.
D Dance Theatre team members and their teacher Chiragi wanted to devise a plan to ensure as many ladies as possible could still access classes and help maintain both the physical and mindful benefits of exercise. Although the prospect of downloading and launching an app such as Zoom was daunting for some of the D Dance members, technical support and advice on how to use smartphones, tablets and computers was available to all. This gave the more wary ladies the opportunity to have ‘test runs’ prior to classes to ensure they could see and hear other people. Class leader Chiragi also kindly offered D Dance members the opportunity to take part in her other online sessions that take place throughout the week, giving them the opportunity to learn a new skill and meet new people.
For members who were already on the WhatsApp group, practise at home videos were also made available to them. These are particularly useful for people who didn’t want to join a live Zoom session but wanted the option to continue to dance at home. We hope these may also give ladies confidence to come to classes when they can reopen. Finally, D Dance are currently reviewing the possibility to collate a few dances and burn them onto DVDs which can then be posted to ladies who do not have an internet connection at home and are not ready to have new technology installed.
Feedback from the ladies after the first two weeks of holding Zoom sessions has been incredibly positive. We’ve had comments like ‘Cant believe how much better I feel now’ and ‘It’s so lovely to see people again and hear familiar voices’. D Dance continue to pay Chiragi for her time and expertise, offering such a lifeline to the ladies, members have agreed to keep money aside each week which can then be donated back into D Dance funds when lockdown lifts and can be used to continue to offer these inspirational classes for years to come. It’s genuinely heartwarming and makes it feel so worthwhile – amazing that the ladies can continue to dance and get the social interaction that will be so key to getting people through this challenging period.