Development Series: The Right Dance Space

Finding the right space for dance is often the most important factor of making or breaking your classes. Through my years of teaching I’ve held classes in a variety of different spaces, some of which have been great, others have had down sides. I thought that within today’s piece I would write down my current reflections on venues I’ve held classes in, in the hope of helping some of you out with some of your own space dilemmas.

From my 3 years of teaching dance, more if you count being a teaching assistant, I’ve held classes in 5 different venues. These have ranged in size dramatically; from a small church hall, to a huge community hall. As well as varies in location, some being in the centre of town, others being away from the town or within a school environment. Of these locations I have a few favourites in terms of space, but they do fall down in terms of location.

The first of these is a hall within a school environment. Set within a primary school, the hall has a lovely gym floor that is extremely roomy. The hall has windows covering the upper section of two sides, as well has having two large fire escapes along one of the walls that also boasts a few larger windows. These windows help to keep the space light and clean, which I think helps the children stay positive and happy when they think back to the class. The space is usually used to hold whole school assemblies as well as school P.E. sessions and so the size is very nice. It’s rectangular and also has a little extra square creating an L-shape, however, I tend to just stick to the rectangle so I can see the whole class.
Here’s the girls with their medals, behind you can see half the space;

This space is great for older children especially as they want more room when they dance so they don’t end up dancing on top of each other. However, if you were looking at using this space for younger ones I think it would be best to section off parts of the room, to avoid children feeling overwhelmed or to have them start running around the space continuously. The downside to this space is that it is within a secure school, which have a pass card entry system, meaning every time a student or parent wants to get in or out of the school, you need to walk over to the entry door to open the separating door for them. While as a security system this is great, when you’re trying to start or end a class it can become very buffered as you constantly need to let people in. In order to minimise this it may be necessary to incorporate 5-10 minutes between each class to act as a buffer, giving you time to get everyone in and out without disrupting the class.

In a similar setting I’ve had a different experience. Again it is a school gym that is used to hold after-school dance classes, but this time the children I teach are younger and crucially more prone to distraction. In this hall the space is slightly bigger, and holds a lot more equipment, from crash mats to rock climbing, the equipment is either attached to the wall or resting up alongside it. I love how big the space is, especially as I taught a few class to older children within that space, and they filled it out perfectly. But this space can prove to be disruptive with the younger children, each break they have they tend to start running to the other side of the room. We section off the space during these sessions and tend to work on a dance in one half, only using the full space for warm up or a game. This works well, but again as the children are running around you need to be vigilant of all the equipment. Keeping them off of some of the climbing frames often becomes a battle. What’s more the floor isn’t too great for dance class as it’s carpeted, another key thing to look out for. If you’re teaching routines that are mainly upright that use trainers, often street routines, this floor is fine. But if you want to teach more lyrical or contemporary routines, be weary of the floor space, carpet burns, and turning on the floor can be difficult in or out of shoes.

 

Further more I’ve been in few spaces that have been small but not felt small. I think the key to less spaces is light. When there isn’t much light within a space, the space seems much smaller and less attractive to the students. It also means you need to use artificial lights more which can make students get headaches and begin to feel ill if they’re not great lights.

Another consideration of all space hirer is parking. While schools tend to have lots of parking, if you’re classes are right after school, the traffic on those roads could get heavy and the parking potential would see a massive decrease around those times. In this respect going to the hall at the times you’d start and end classes could prove very useful, as you can see what the parking would be like typically at those times. Allowing you to be more informed about where parents or students could park for their lessons.

There are also other considerations like, heating and access to water, but in my experience most halls that are available to rent have these facilities, it is just a matter of quality.

 

As I prepare for my life after university, I’ll be writing a series of posts labelled ‘Development Series’. These will be posts that I’ll be using to help explore my options and that will help me further my potential as I work out where my place is within the working world.

As always I hope this was helpful, to follow my journey you can add me on any of the platforms down below, or comment on any posts your thoughts and ideas. I would love to hear from any of my readers.

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