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While staying at home for a long period of time in self-quarantine may sound as bad as house arrest, there are plenty of dance-related activities to stave off cabin fever. Putting live dance classes and live dance performances on hold, you can still keep busy. And when you embrace the hermit life, you can be as productive or as focused on leisure as you like. Here are more than 60 ways that you can keep busy: learning dance, creating dance, “taking care of [dance] business” and more.
You’ll also find specific dance at home resources in our handy new list.
Dance is a great form of entertainment. And fortunately, learning about dance and watching dance is easy to do at home – so try a few of these boredom busters.
1. Curl up with a dance book.
Slow down. It’s the perfect opportunity to read a biographical book about your favorite dance artist or to brush up on dance history. Whatever your specific interests, there are dance books for you.
2. Get lost watching dance videos on YouTube.
There are plenty of short dance routines on YouTube. Relive memorable performances from So You Think You Dance or Strictly Come Dancing. Or simply type the name of a song you like + ‘dance’ and see if anyone has created a dance to it, yet.
The dance YouTube-universe is vast, so you can start with our list of Dance Dispatches approved videos.
3. Check out dance trends on TikTok.
TikTok is a social media platform, mostly filled with and teens, but it continues to grow in popularity. It’s the best place to see what ‘those crazy kids’ are up to these days!
4. Create your own dance move – and see if it goes viral.
Tiktok is the best place to broadcast your dance moves. Choose a catchy song, dance around, upload your video and see if it takes off. You could be responsible for the next viral sensation.
5. Excavate ancient dance videos of yourself.
Your parents paid for those terrible videos of your childhood dance recitals, so you may as well watch them. Laugh at the costumes, determine which of your classmates are still dancing and see how far you’ve come on your dance journey.
6. Attempt to dance an old piece of choreography.
You’ve spent hours rehearsing and polishing dance pieces for competitions and other performances. Dig through the dance archives stored in your brain. Throw on a song that accompanied one of your old routines and see what choreography stuck with you. … 5, 6, 7, 8!
For a gold star, upload it on socials with #dancerevival and tag us on social media at @dancedispatches. It’s one of our Covid-19 Edition Dance Challenges.
7. Learn a dance routine from a video tutorial.
Two decades ago, dance tutorials were less common. We basically just had Darrin’s Dance Grooves to learn the music video choreography from Britney Spears’ Crazy and N*SYNC’s Bye Bye Bye. Now, there are plenty of dance tutorials you can try on YouTube. Try Matt Steffanina’s channel – maybe Shape of You?
8. Relive your favorite dance performance.
Have you ever left the theater with tingles running down your spine? Think about one of the most memorable productions that you’ve seen; then read the dance show reviews that cover it. Notice how the description brings the dance to life, and see if you agree with the author’s other observations.
9. Organize a dance movie marathon.
Get comfy on the couch and settle in for a series of dance movies. (Props to you if you can make it through more than two Step Up movies at a time – since they’re like the dance equivalent of the mind-numbing ‘Fast and the Furious’ series.) Re-watch Center Stage, Save the Last Dance or go further back to classics like Dirty Dancing, Footloose, Flashdance, Fame and Saturday Night Fever.
10. Read about the global dance traditions and attractions.
Just because you’re confined to your living quarters doesn’t mean you can’t learn about incredible dances around the world. Peruse our dance travel guides, which outline incredible dance activities and attractions in different destinations. Curious about dance games in Japanese arcades? Argentine tango venues in Buenos Aires? We’ve got you covered.
Or, better yet, try to dance them? It’s another of our 2020 Dance Challenges, where we’ve linked an introductory video to learn the Scottish Highland Fling.
11. Tune into dance television shows.
Whether the tapes are still rolling or the final season has run, there are a plethora of dance competition shows, such as The Greatest Dancer and America’s Best Dance Crew. Plus, there are documentaries that follow the challenges of famous dance companies – and even the drama of being a dance mom, going head-to-head with the inimitable Abby Lee Miller.
12. Watch full-length dance productions.
We already mentioned that YouTube is great for finding short pieces, but if you are diligent in your online searching, you can find full-length ballets and shows, too. We’ve outlined which companies and organizations are sharing professional productions in our comprehensive dance at home digital resources list. Otherwise, root through your VHS or DVD collection for dance performance videos, like Riverdance, the Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet or Akram Khan’s Giselle.
13. Decorate a pair of pointe shoes.
Buying a pair of decorated pointe shoes is a great way to support ballet companies. But if you’ve got a battered pair of pointe shoes lying about, you can decorate your own. Paint, glue and glitter* your creation to decorate your home or to give as a gift. If you’ve got two, why not save one and gift one? (We recommend eco-friendly, biodegradable glitter, of course.)
14. Get into the heads of famous dance artists and choreographers.
No, we’re not talking about living ‘rent free’ in someone’s head. We want you to be able to access the thought processes of the most inspirational and influential dance artists of our time. See our dance interviews to learn about the experiences of Germán Cornejo, David Middendorp, Joy Alpuerto Ritter and more.
15. Keep up on dance news.
You can read about developments and interest pieces on the dance industry on our blog – such as the development of Siberian Swan’s pointe shoes for men, but we also share interesting tidbits on our Pinterest boards and Flipboard magazines. To stay even more up-to-date, subscribe to our newsletter below.
16. Message your dance friends to see how they’re coping at home.
It’s easy to feel shut off when you can’t meet in person, but it’s still nice to keep in touch with messages and video calls. Maybe it’s time for a virtual dance party?
17. Look at theater schedules to plan the shows you’d like to see.
Unfortunately, you may miss some of the shows you that planned to see. (We are, too.) There’s nothing that can be done, but looking wayyyy out to prioritize which shows you’d most like to see in the far future may make you feel better. For instance, we’re looking forward to the Moulin Rouge musical in 2021. When you’re given the all clear, you’ll feel back at home in the theater.
18. Glance through your collection of old show programs.
Are you a show program hoarder? Dig through your stack of show programs, of performances that you’ve both seen and starred in, for a trip down memory lane. After all, you kept them for a rainy day.
Staying at home for a long period of time can be a treat. Remember the word ‘staycation’? But don’t let yourself get into a creative slump. You can use this time to make new work: professional or silly and uplifting. We highly recommend the ‘face dance’ (#23).
19. Choreograph a dance for stage.
Have you always dreamed of presenting a dance on stage (outside of your university)? And, if you have, did you choreograph the dance, yet? It’s a great time to hunker down and choreograph a dance production, whether you conceptualize the entire piece or polish one section. Progress is progress.
20. Choreograph a dance for video (screendance).
Dance and video come together at the intersection of screendance. Challenge yourself to create a dance, or re-stage one of your previous choreographies, that’s uniquely suited to film.
If you’re stumped by screendance, get inspired by our interview with The Motion Dance Collective founder, Omari Carter.
Put on some music and jam. Dance whatever you feel, and you’ll probably come up with some material to save for future projects.
22. Create an inspirational sound score for a piece.
Choreographers are often told to stay away from using music as a choreographical crutch. This time, mix your own sound score to create the perfect ambiance for your piece, whether the moves are already set or you haven’t yet begun the choreography.
23. Try choreographing a dance piece – with just your face.
Okay, okay, some of the best face dance videos are actually accentuated with shoulder and hand movements, so you can add those, too. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Face dances are funny. And please tag us on socials when you upload them, since we can’t wait to see them!
24. Find artistic collaborators.
If you have an upcoming project, look for different photographers, videographers, musicians and costumers whom you’d like to work with. Browse through their portfolios to see whose aesthetic would best suit for your piece.
25. Look up poses for your next dance photo shoot.
Truth: No one has better #jumpshot pics than #dancersofinstagram. But when you’re on a photo shoot, you could waste valuable time thinking of new poses. Be prepared and look for dance poses to imitate (or better yet, tweak) for your next dance photo shoot. You’ll find tons of ideas on Instagram and Pinterest – and our dazzling dance photos board, in particular.
26. Create a spoof of a famous choreography.
Yes, the task is essentially to create another dance piece. But this one is meant to be a funny version of a famous dance scene or music video. So, what will it be: another Chandelier rendition, a Hotline Bling parody or a re-make of Flashdance (as The Flash superhero)?
27. Develop the stride you’d represent in the ‘silly walks’ parade.
If you can’t commit to choreographing an entire piece,why not come up with one silly walk? There has been a ‘silly walk’ parade in Budapest and a ‘silly walk’ city march in Brno. Where will you debut yours?
Business & Maintenance
Alas, dance is a means of income, as well as an art and a passion. While you’re on lockdown, take the time to set your business up for continued success. Most of these tasks apply to freelance dancers, company directors and/or studio owners.
28. Edit your show reel.
You dance so often, it can be hard to sit down and watch your own performances. Now is the time to show your dance show reel some love.
29. Update your dance website.
Your dance website represents you and/or your company. You want it to reflect your unique style with up-to-date press clippings, photos and videos – not to mention your repertoire and any upcoming productions. Jump on it!
30. Plan your PR strategy.
You know your classes or performances are great. But how are you going to grow your audience? (And your profits?) Look for ways that you can get some good press. Hint: You can even work with Dance Dispatches. Teachers and studio owners should check out our dance class features.
31. Update your CV.
When you’re looking for a job and audition opportunities, CVs are still important in the dance world. Add your most recent performances for the best chance of being asked to for an interview or an audition.
32. Search for dance jobs and auditions.
Looking for a new challenge? There are plenty of jobs for dancers and dance-related careers. If you’re unsatisfied, seek new avenues and opportunities.
33. Inventory clothes, shoes and accessories.
Dance apparel takes a beating. If you’ve irreparably snagged a pair of tights (beyond the repair of a smear of clear nail polish) or you have worn through the satin on your bronze ballroom shoes, you can still wear these clothes to rehearsals – but it’s time to buy replacements for auditions and performances.
34. Do some necessary shoe maintenance.
Break in a new pair of pointe shoes and sew on the ribbons, brush the bottoms of your ballroom shoes or polish your leather tap shoes.
35. Talk to your followers on social media.
If you don’t have social media accounts for your dance art or business, create them: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn. Let your audience know what you’ve been up to, or simply spread joy with a fun dance post.
36. Put together your next e-newsletter.
Some people just don’t do social media, so don’t forget to keep the conversation going with your online mailing list. It lets you speak directly to your audience without fear of social media algorithm changes.
37. Keep track of your finances in preparation for tax season.
Ugggh, taxes. Why not get a head start now, staying on top of your profits and expenses, so that you can quickly finish them off when tax season rolls around? You’ll thank yourself later.
38. Plan lessons for dance class.
Lesson planning can be time consuming, so carve out some time to determine which skills and concepts you’d like to teach your students, as well as specific exercises and activities. You’ll find a few ideas on our dedicated dance teacher tips and resources board on Pinterest. You can also join our board and share your own!
39. Plan a one-off workshop/ event/ festival.
Do you have a great idea for a special dance workshop or a one-off dance event? Use this break from the ordinary to plan a valuable session for dancers. You could host a mock audition and offer personalized critiques for each dancer, or you could create a showcase that features a mixture of dance styles. Get creative.
40. Research grants, competitions and performance opportunities.
It’s easy to get in a rut. Break out of it by researching new opportunities to win grants and enter competitions. Look for alternative venues to perform your dance pieces, too.
41. Write ‘thank yous’ and progress reports for donors.
If you already have sponsors, touch base with them. Let them know that you are thankful for their donations. Tell them what you are working on, along with your specific challenges and successes. They’ve invested in you, so it’s the least you can do.
42. Create a show or workshop poster.
Try out your graphic design skills and put together a poster and/or other advertisement graphics for your upcoming dance performance or workshop. You can save money by doing this work in-house.
Goals & Development
When you stick with dance for a long period of time, you’ll grow. It’s nice to step back and see how you have developed and how you’d like to continue progressing both professionally and artistically.
43. Review your New Years resolutions.
We tend to forget our New Year’s resolutions once January is over. Do you even remember what yours were? Take a look at your goals and see how close you are to reaching them.
44. Set new dance goals.
Goals aren’t tied to the calendar year. Re-evaluate your goals, if necessary. You can set out to perfect a new trick or choose an audition you’d like to nail. Dance goals can also cover placing at competitions and monetary earnings.
45. Map out your 5-year plan.
This is a little bit like setting a bunch of dance goals, but more organized. Your five-year plan systematically outlines how you step from where you are now to where you want to be.
46. Revise your artistic statement.
Your preferences and values will develop throughout your dance career. Make sure your artistic statement reflects what is important to you as an artist now.
47. Re-read your old dance journals.
Enjoy a blast from the past as you read your old dance diaries – and, if there’s space, update them with all of your greatest achievements since your last entry.
Dance Technique & Physical Training
It’s easy to get lethargic when you’re confined at home. But clear out a little space for some dancing and physical training. This will make getting back to class and rehearsals easier.
48. Take an online ballet barre class.
Ballet technique provides a wonderful foundation for many different dance styles. The ballet barre format is also very familiar and, in a way, comforting. Try one of these free online ballet barre videos.
49. Lay down… for floor barre.
When you complete regular ballet barre exercises on the floor, gravity works your muscles differently. Lay on your back, stick your feet straight up, at a 90-degree angle, and see what happens when you plié and tendu with your legs in the air.
50. Practice inversions.
Modern dance technique sometimes calls for inversions. Flipping upside-down may be scary at first, but you can complete exercises that will help you gain the confidence to try handstands and other cartwheel-y type tricks.
51. Improve upper body strength.
You will need a good amount of upper body strength in order to perform inversions, so haul out a suspension trainer for push ups and pull ups. You can also plant your ankles on an inflatable exercise ball with your hands on the floor and raise your hips up to a pike position – or use an ab roller.
52. Try a new dance style.
Use your free time to try dance in a completely different genre. There are plenty of beginning tutorials to learn ballroom dance figures, belly dance moves and different types of freestyle. What’s first: breakdancing top rocks or tap dance steps?
53. Get moving with an online dance fitness class.
If you want to give your brain a break, but work out your body, try an online fitness class. We personally love The Fitness Marshall on YouTube, and DanceBody has a new online ‘Streamteam’ subscription program.
54. Practice turns.
If turns are your Achilles heel, dedicate some time to perfecting them. Watching yourself pirouette, painful though it may be, could provide insight into why your body falls off balance. You can improve your balance with a balance board and perfect your turning technique with a turning board or turning disc.
55. Work on petite allegro.
Indoors, you probably won’t have enough space to practice grand allegro. Instead, work on your petite jumps. If you live in an apartment above ground floor, the test will be to see if the neighbors complain!
56. Increase your foot and ankle strength.
Observers often notice a dancer’s legs before their feet, but the feet and ankles must be incredibly strong to bear a body’s weight and the impact of landing from jumps. This is also true of ballet dancers who rise up on their tiptoes in pointe shoes. Relevé until you feel the burn.
57. Perfect your go-to dance party trick.
When you tell people you dance, they generally want some sort of proof, aka: a party trick. Practice your signature move so that you can bust it out flawlessly, even after a few drinks. Remember, drunken party tricks gone wrong could land you a serious injury.
58. Search for dance classes to try when you’re ‘free’.
You may be itching to get back into the studio. But while you’re out, look for other dance classes that you’d like to try. It’s great to take class at a dance studio where you know the teachers and their movement signature really well, but occasionally learning dance from other instructors (even within the same dance genre) can help you to develop as an artist.
Self-care routines are regularly scrapped in the interest of saving time. But pressing on without taking time to care for your mind and body will lead to burnout. Seek a spot of rejuvenation.
59. Stretch it out.
It can be hard to stretch after class when you’re getting kicked out of the studio to make way for the next class. As a dancer you are much more flexible than the rest of the population, but you’ll lose it if you don’t use it.
Did you know there are entire sessions dedicated to stretching – like Moving Stretch classes?
60. Treat yourself to an at-home massage.
Dancers typically have quite a few tools for self-massage: trigger point release massage balls, foam rollers, massage cushions and all sorts. Put them to good use, and sidle into a big massage chair recliner if you’re lucky enough to own one!
61. Soak in the tub.
If you’re looking for a passive way to relax your muscles, spend 20 minutes in the tub. Bonus points if you fill it with Epsom salt. And if you use a salt or sugar scrub to gently exfoliate the skin on your feet.
62. Try cupping.
Cupping can leave tell-tale bruises, and although it comes from a long history in traditional Chinese medicine, it gained lots of visibility in the 2016 Olympic Games. These cups, often sold in cupping kits, increase circulation without compressing muscles. You can buy either silicon or plastic cups with a pump for at-home use.
63. Decompress your spine.
The spine shortens every day due to gravity. Spinal decompression is meant to counteract this, creating more space between each vertebrae. You can use a yoga wheel, a yoga trapeze or an inversion bench to do this at home.
Self-care means more than taking care of your body. Let all the noise fade away and meditate. Focus on your breathing. You might only stay in a tranquil state for a few minutes, but it can still bring big benefits. And the more you practice, the easier meditation will become.
65. Give authentic movement a go.
At first authentic movement may just seem like improvisation. But find a quiet space, and allow your body to move in a way that reflects how you feel. This process is used in dance/ movement therapy, where there is a witness, who describes what they saw and felt throughout the process. It’s not meant to be beautiful; moving from the inside out is mean to be expressive and cathartic.
66. Go to bed early.
Spend the time you would normally take commuting in Dreamland! Get to sleep and enjoy some well-deserved extra rest.
How has this list of at-home dance activities inspired you? What tasks are you most excited to catch up on as you maintain an appropriate ‘social distance’? We look forward to hearing how you’re keeping busy, in the time of COVID-19 and beyond, in the comments section below.
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