“On the day the college closed, one student turned to me and said, ‘What am I going to do? Dance is my life,’” says Maxine Railton, senior lecturer in dance at Glasgow Clyde College.
Like many other vocational subjects, dance is not a course that easily lends itself to be taught remotely. But with their students so passionate and keen to keep dancing throughout the chaos, the lecturers at Glasgow Clyde College have been determined to enable them to do so.
“We are a very, very tight family in our department because we do so much collaborative work together. It’s not like studying geography where you don’t know anyone in second or third year, there’s a real community of dancers and I think the social aspect is incredibly important and it’s what keeps us together,” says Railton.
Normally at this time of year, all of the students would be working on choreography for the end-of-term show. This is an opportunity to celebrate their hard work and for their friends and family to watch them perform. But with the college building closed and the country on lockdown, the show simply cannot happen this year.
But the lecturers at Glasgow Clyde were determined that their students would have a chance to showcase their talent and progression.
All four year groups were sent 30 seconds of Vivaldi’s Concerto in B minor and told to create their own choreography to the music. They sent videos of themselves performing their own choreography to the dance department's ballet master, Glauco Di Lieto, who edited all the clips together to produce the video below.
The video is just one of the many activities Glasgow Clyde has been encouraging learners to take part in. The college’s ballet master, Glauco Di Lieto, is leading ballet barre classes on Zoom, and instructing students to hold on to the kitchen sides, a chest of drawers, or sinks in place of a ballet barre. Another lecturer has her own dance studio and has been streaming classes for students to join in with. A daily digest is sent to them all with links to different contemporary and ballet pieces to watch and analyse.
“We’re trying to be as innovative as possible," says Railton. "With a practical subject like dance, it’s quite challenging to do that remotely and properly, it’s really just about engaging the students and trying to keep them focused on their studies until we can get back into the studio.
“The students are just really glad to have a focus and be in touch with us and know that life will go on and will continue after this and we will be together again. It provides hope for them.”