Our new season of Home Practice starts 11 January, so we wanted to reflect back on when the pandemic began and how we evolved Home Practice.
Home Practice finds it’s home on YouTube >> Check it out here!
Here we are again, entering a new year and another lockdown. As we assess what our future may look like here at Stopgap, what is clear to us is that inclusion is integral.
It’s tough not to feel resigned as we progress slowly, and communities experience relentless detrimental effects as a result of the pandemic. Reflecting on the past year, Executive Producer Sho Shibata mentioned how Stopgap’s inclusive approach has been complicated by the national governments handling of the pandemic.
“Their medical-model orientated approach effectively told those who are ‘clinically vulnerable’ to shut themselves away while the others were encouraged to get out and about to keep the economy going. This kind of messaging only creates division and social tension and made things very difficult for companies like Stopgap, who are trying to sustain inclusivity and cohesion between people with different needs.”
In 2021, we wish to continue supporting dance artists and fellow creatives throughout this challenging time, and ensure the disabled community are not left out of the narrative when it comes to recovering from the pandemic.
One of the ways we hope to do this is through Home Practice; our free self-guided programme of online dance workshops and classes that introduce a variety of approaches to contemporary dance practice, with inclusivity at its heart. Home Practice is not about imitating what happens in the studio but aims to support dancers’ continued process of learning whilst at home.
Home Practice highlights the solo dancing experience, encouraging participants to own their practice – free of over-critical comparison to others. We want to support dancers at a variety of levels, from classes offering chances for challenging your practice, to workshops that dig into the fundamentals of inclusive contemporary dance. It aims to build confidence for individual dancers to return to the studio when that moment comes.
The Beginnings of Home Practice…
When the UK first entered a lockdown in March 2020 classes were unable to take place in studios, so we moved online, taking to Zoom and Facebook. Flexing our technological muscles and adapting to a digital dance landscape. (P.S… You can find these older classes in our Facebook group where we continue to update about Home Practice! It’s also a great place to interact with others on their Home Practice journeys)
What began as reaching out to our colleagues and fellow creatives, was soon revealed to be a vital source of connection and a way to continue our dance practice at home. We were also conscious of the lack of inclusive accessible content available online – not just within dance but within all of arts and culture. Something that is being addressed and challenged by campaigns such as #WeShallNotBeRemoved which was established by the UK Disability Arts Alliance.
Seeing the benefits of digital dance practice and reflecting on the needs of dancers who face barriers to accessing mainstream dance opportunities, Stopgap began developing Home Practice into an accessible tool for those looking to sustain and progress their dance practice.
A real investment has been made into the development and production of this programme of training. Our team of teachers have worked passionately to develop their unique classes and workshops. Spending time working together in the studio (socially distanced) when it was possible, digging deeper into their sessions and constantly evolving their offerings.
Working alongside film-maker Floyd C Konde, our Home Practice sessions have evolved from our livestreams into videos we are really proud of. Our YouTube channel is growing into a great resource for dancers to pick and choose sessions from, and to find something that suits their curiosity for the day. With classes from our experienced disabled teachers too, it encourages diverse dancers to harness their own dance practice.
In her blog Keeping up with Inclusive Dance Practice, Laura Jones (Senior Dance Artist and Head of Talent Development) outlines the many access benefits of Home Practice. From the ability to access classes from the safety of your own home, being able to pause and rewind the classes, and the accessibility of technology utilities – to the actual content of the classes. Home Practice aims to offer something to everyone.
We acknowledge that we can’t make each class completely accessible to everyone, as differing access needs can often counteract one another. However, we are constantly evolving and addressing the accessibility of each class through discussion with disabled artists both in the company and externally. We are also proud to showcase our disabled teachers, providing role models for younger disabled participants who rarely see themselves reflected in their dance teachers.
With another lockdown we hope that you can find some solace in the regular uploads of Home Practice. As we too adjust once more to the restrictions in place, we’ll be sharing as much as possible about what we have on offer to get involved with. We’ve also got a good selection of blogs from our dancers about how they’ve been best managing their health and well-being throughout this time (see below).
We’ll be releasing the second season of Home Practice from January 11, on our YouTube and social media channels. We really appreciate all of the support we’ve received and encourage you to share Home Practice with any fellow dancers who are searching for online classes. We also want to continue the open dialogue that our audience has with our teachers – so please comment and interact with our videos, the teachers also relish this interaction they are so sorely missing from classes right now!
Thank you for reading!