CREATIVE OUTLET: Myla O'Brien, 7, at home practising a ballet class with Miss Melinda of Melinda's Dance Studio.
CREATIVE OUTLET: Myla O'Brien, 7, at home practising a ballet class with Miss Melinda of Melinda's Dance Studio.

Young dancers rise to the challenge

“IT’S going to be challenging, but I have no choice.”

Melinda Taylor, of Melinda’s Dance Studio, has been forced to move her classes online as restrictions have come down on her business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Miss Melinda, who has studios in Yeppoon and Tannum Sands, was among one of the first businesses to be closed.

At a loss as to what to do, Miss Melinda spoke to other dance teachers across the state who encouraged her to do videos for her classes.

Calling herself an “older dance teacher”, learning the technology has been quite the journey for Melinda. Thankfully, she has a 16-year-old son who has been her guru.

She has set up a Facebook group for her dance schools and has been doing videos for her classes.

Affiliated with the Royal Academy of Dance, Miss Melinda has been following its advice regarding how the dance world is moving forward.

She noted how great it was to have the technology to even be able to offer classes in the current climate.

“Ten to 20 years ago there was no way we would be able to continue,” she said.

“It’s a way of keeping connected while staying apart. It’s important for children to have a form of exercise and for their mental health.”

Miss Melinda has been doing FaceTime classes with her dedicated students and parents submit videos of their children doing the work.

“Although it’s a start, it is quite limiting,” she said.

“I’m a very hands-on teacher, touching the students’ feet and rotating them.

“It’s very much a visual learning.”

Now on holidays, she will spend her time off learning how to do live online classes through Zoom, as it is expected the restrictions will go into term two.

This has also been challenging financially. As parents pay by term, Miss Melinda will reduce term two fees to compensate for the early finish in term one.

Also, the online learning might not be suitable for every child as some will be unable to concentrate through the screen, whereas they thrive in the dance studio environment.

“It’s only been three weeks, it’s a bit like holiday mode, but its going to be different when it’s a longer time,” Miss Melinda said.

It will also be tricky when it comes to group dances as the dancers cannot practise together.

Many of her students rehearse for competitions and examinations, which generally involves interaction with other dancers, making it impossible to teach.

Even soloists might have limited space to practise at home when compared with the size of a stage or studio.

The restrictions have meant some events have been cancelled, for which students had been practising routines and choreography for months.

One student had been preparing for an event in Bundaberg this month which had to be cancelled.

“That was very disappointing for her,” she said.

The Rockhampton Eisteddfod has also been cancelled.

Miss Melinda hopes the Rockhampton Dance Festival will still be held in October but preparing students for it will be difficult.

“Not sure how ready the children will be without having seen me,” she said.

Having taught for the best part of 30 years, Miss Melinda is attached to her students and loves teaching dance.

She can’t wait to be back in the studio.

“I miss them and it’s only been three weeks,” she said.

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