As Ketchikan hunkers down at home to fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus, many community organizations are continuing to provide normally scheduled activities — now modified to allow for social distancing.
Ketchikan Theatre Ballet made the decision to cancel its annual Spring Gala performance and spring raffle, as well as the annual “Big City Summer Dance Camp,” according to KTB Executive Director Elizabeth Schultz.
Even after those cancellations, KTB is providing online class options, Schultz said during a Wednesday interview with the Daily News.
The digital sessions have been underway since early this month, Schultz estimated.
The classes are held via the conferencing platform Cisco Webex.
So far, online sessions are only available for the “creative movement” and pre-ballet classes, as well as ballet levels six through nine, Schultz explained.
Ballet level six and seven classes — which are primarily composed of sixth- and seventh-graders — are being instructed together, as are ballet level eight and nine classes — which consist mostly of eighth- and ninth-grade students.
In addition to combining classes, the times that classes are being held have been changed from KTB’s usual schedule.
“I wanted to make sure that I kind of figured out how to do it safely, because it is a physical activity,” Schultz said about developing the online classes. “There is a risk for injury or developing bad technique, since I can’t physically correct the dancers, which is a huge part of dance training.”
Schultz said that the switch to online classes was interesting, although not ideal.
“I’ve found it actually more beneficial than I thought it was going to be,” she explained. “It’s developing new ways to get the information across to the dancers. So I’m having to use more analogies and imagery and kind of working on how I cue verbally, and so it’s just developing another aspect of my teaching practice.”
Schultz believes that the students and families of KTB are responding well to the new platform.
“I think a lot of parents and students are liking the routine of it,” she said. “It’s a ritual that they have every Saturday morning, you know, you’ll take your little one to dance class and it’s just something the kids can look forward to. So I think people appreciate that kind of routine back in their lives.”
Schultz said that this appreciation is especially true for the older dancers, who often spend up to 20 hours a week training in the KTB studio.
To these students, Schultz said that the class is “very much a ritual,” and that the chance to continue participating through the coronavirus pandemic is “rewarding” for them.
“I think they’re very excited to see their friends; I think they’re very excited to have the ability to take class again,” said Schultz.
Schultz noted that the technological problems associated with online communication, such as difficulty connecting to the class or hearing properly, haven’t been difficult to navigate around.
“I think it’s good for the most part, but also slightly frustrating,” Schultz said, explaining that online class can be frustrating due to the lack of equipment and proper space that a dancer would usually be provided with in a traditional setting.
However, Schultz said that “we’ll definitely keep doing this until we’re allowed to healthily and safely meet together again at the studio.”
Students and families seeking more information about registration and class scheduling may message Schultz by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.