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We Are All Together!!!!! Must Read Blog: Self-Assessment Excepts

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

Hear how the first week of "dancing at home" went for your fellow dance-peeps:

As some of you know, at the beginning of the week of our original SUNY Potsdam Spring Break, I was counting down the days to attend the Friday night performance of the Netherlands Dance Theatre in Montreal. We both know that this isn’t just any dance company, it is an all-time favorite in the world. When Friday rolled around and as I was driving back to Potsdam, I was thinking about how unfortunate it was for the concert to be canceled. I thought that this misfortune and far, far more severe circumstances are happening everywhere.

When discussion broke out about school canceling and faculty needing to make preparations to teach remotely, admittedly, I knew that I was leaping off into an entirely new dance realm. “Holy Cow! How am I going to teach online dance?” With the understanding of how potentially devastated many of the dance students would be not dancing and just writing papers, I was destined to make the change as seamless for them as possible. That was when the idea for was born.

When the site was launch on March 23rd and I announced to students the first week assignment. I also gave them a pep talk, letting them know that how successful the remainder of the semester would be for them, would determine their level of independent dedication and discipline. I told them, “as a dancer, an athlete, a musician, or in any discipline, no one asks you to train or study. You just know that you have to do it in order to be the best that you can be. Please move forward with this mindset for your health, well-being, and future… YOU'VE GOT THIS! SO, LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!”

I definitely know that there are critical benefits that only in-person training can offer, but for the students, learning dance remotely at the Cyndance website has been a portal to new and exciting techniques, ideas, and ways of moving. After a week of dancing from home, students submitted compelling self-assessment summaries. Granted I have over seventy-five students and wish to include all of their comments, but I selected a good portion for real insight on their voices. Enjoy! -Cynthia

“The website looks awesome, I can't believe you created it so quickly!” -Morgan, Modern

“Thank you for your hard work in such a challenging time for everyone. One of my first thoughts when everything happened so fast was how this would work out with ballet. I really have appreciated my time studying with you. I have grown so much as a person and physically (especially my knees!). Lots of gratitude.” Katrina, Ballet

“Honestly, this week and also this month has been extremely hard in all aspects, including dance. It's hard to deal with everything you've been working toward just swept up from under you, and it's also hard to deal with change. Even though a lot is going on in the world and for me personally, I made sure to prioritize my work dancing at all costs. Therefore, I started my week on Monday with an intense "insanity" workout with my mother” “In conclusion, these videos are helping me a lot as a dancer to maintain my growth and muscle. The video assignments are also helping me as a dancer to build my stamina through movement, which will be extremely useful for whenever I can dance outside of my home. At first, it was making me sad doing these videos because it reminded me of the fun in class in PAC, Studio A, but it also gave me a reason to keep moving and not give up on what I love.” -Grace, Modern

“Although this week has been challenging, I realized not being able to keep up with my amazing professor has alone helped me as a dancer. I was able to get to know my own body and know my limits. Simply being able to understand your body is an uplifting feeling. Dance is a great escape for the soul it takes all of my worries away.” -Nyree

“Each video helped me develop as a dancer and improved those working muscles in different ways. For example, when doing workouts for dance, I have never really focused on doing any triceps workouts. So when this workout started I noticed that some of the exercises she was doing looked to be pretty easy, but when actually doing them it felt like my arms were on fire. This definitely helped me develop some sort of muscle in my triceps that I did not have before. Although they seemed to look easy, the exercises were pretty hard.” “One thing I think helped me a lot was her showing and talking about the lengthening you need to be doing while doing back exercises. I personally do not have very strong back muscles so this tip helped me immensely and I could feel my back muscles working throughout the exercises as I lengthened my legs and arms. In conclusion, I felt as though that throughout the course of these videos, many of my muscles were really being put to work. For most of these workouts I was very sore after and felt like I was putting my body to work with these workouts. My rating of this overall performance would be very good. She made it very easy to do these workouts in a small space. I think that the results of these workouts will make me a stronger dancer, and will develop more muscle, especially in my legs.” - Erin, Modern

“Overall, it has been something fun to do by myself or even with my niece and my mom. I am really excited to do more at home with my family and improve my training. I have realized that I prefer contact teaching/learning, but I will make the most of it. It’s was easier than I thought, as well.” -Rosa, Modern

“Overall, my work this week, though it was mostly experimental, really showed me what I have to look forward to the rest of this semester. I’m only going to grow stronger as a dancer through physical muscle building and experience with different styles outside of ballet and modern dance. I’m very happy to also have a way to remain fit through this difficult time.” – Meadow, Modern & Ballet

“So, on Monday I took some time to explore your website, which I enjoy, and found the daily ab workouts. Each day this week I did them and believe me, I am sore!” “Thanks for all the hard work you have done to get the web page ready in time and the countless things you do behind the scenes!” -Belle, Ballet

“When it came to do the ballet classes online, I can truthfully say that I underestimated the strength that dancers have. Doing the classes I was surprised at how sore I was after doing one video and I realized that I have been working out all wrong. The work that I accomplished this week was beneficial towards my development as a dancer because, due to some of the videos that I watched, I practiced strength in my core, legs, arms, and most importantly balance. By taking the classes, I was able to see how important it is to be physically in shape when you’re a dancer and how important it is to stay healthy because these classes kicked my butt. Not only did the work help me accomplish the physical aspect of being a dancer but also the mentality part as well. When we are faced with situations that are hard, especially when you’re working the body further than you normally push yourself, it’s important to have a strong mindset to tell yourself to keep pushing and to keep fighting. I realized that it doesn’t matter how strong your legs or core is, or how long you can stay in an arabesque, if you don’t have a strong mind to tell yourself to keep pushing when your body starts to get tired, all the power you have in your body won’t matter. You brain quits on you way before your body does; I’ve experienced that doing these classes. During some of the videos, I would get to a point where I thought that I wouldn’t be able to finish the video without passing out, but then the demonstrator would say “keep going”, “I believe in you”, “you can do it”, and I would repeat those words to myself and find a new sense of power and determination which allowed me to finish the videos and feel great afterwards. The work I completed this week was beneficial towards my development as a dancer because I learned that I could push myself harder than I ever did before as long as I believed in myself and had a strong mindset. Taking a ballet class at home with no dance space and no barre, it’s difficult to practice and try to make sure that your posture is good and your feet are turned out and your knees are straight. However, after accomplishing a week of this rather unusual challenge, it affects my approach to my training in dance because I have a new found confidence that if I can continue to learn and practice ballet while at home, I can certainly do it anywhere, at any time. For my first week, it was hard and challenging, and I’ll admit I was rather worried and confused, so my work ethic wasn’t the best. I was still trying to figure out a spacious area to take these classes and I was distracted. However, I’m confident as the weeks go by, I’ll become stronger and more dedicated, I can assure you that my work ethic will be back to where it was as though I was back at PAC in class. It’ll take time, but I know that it’ll come sooner rather than later.” - Medina. Ballet

“In following along with the Everyday Abs series, I feel that I have more energy and am getting back into the groove of working out. Though I’ve always been fairly consistent with my stretching and working out, I feel that using this week as a sort of “warmup week” has greatly helped me in transitioning back into regularly dancing. I will definitely use this method of warming up after long breaks in the future.” -Mairin, Ballet

“First, I tackled the ballet barre to help strengthen my legs and help keep my technique strong. I had used one of the dining table chairs as my barre, got some comfortable clothes, ballet shoes and was ready to work. I tried to keep my mindset as focused as I would usually be in a physical class to help keep me engaged.” - Ashley, Ballet

“One last thing I would like to say about this week is that, given good weather, dancing outside is a really wonderful thing that I would like to include in my practice more going forward. There is so much space that I feel like it is difficult not to automatically dance bigger. The outside also offers different terrain, which affects movement in a different way. For example, I was practicing pique turns, which I've always had trouble understanding the mechanics of, down my sloped driveway, and this helped to understand how perform them WAY better. Overall, this dancing week started of really stressful, somewhat sad, and uncertain, but feels much more like a good opportunity right about now. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that the sun is shining in these parts.” -Tatianna, Modern and Ballet

“The last video was super fun to do it had good energy. I felt like I got a really good workout from doing this video. Some of the exercises were familiar to me and all of the exercises were easy to follow along to as well. I believe this video will help with future training because it will keep you in shape. And working out makes you feel better and gives you the confidence you need. For this video I rate it a 10 out of 10. Overall, I had fun doing all of them and it helps me stay active throughout the day.” -Mali, Ballet

“Going back to doing just straight full-body muscle-targeting workouts became the way for me to rediscover the body awareness I needed to try to jump back into straight ballet again. Getting a little (by a little, I mean extremely) sore in those muscle groups definitely forced my attention to what I needed to be using again. Feeling how shaky and weak I’d become highlighted how darn difficult dancing is, and how proud I am that I have had dedication to continue working at it. Ultimately, I feel that maintenance is the primary goal for the time being. Sometimes taking a break like this is the best way to refocus your attention for efficiency in work, rather than going through the same exercises in the same way. While I did struggle (a LOT) and wasn’t able to get through the workouts I did fully, I’m glad I was able to get back up & moving again. Being cooped up with no structure has taken the toll on my mood & well-being, and it was so nice to remember how happy moving- dancing or otherwise- makes me (even if I wanted to die during those crunches in the process).” -Stacia, Ballet

“This week I tried out numerous dance workout videos like the No-Equipment Barre Sculpting Workout, Everyday Ab Series, Extreme Inner Thigh Workout & Stretch, and the New York City Ballet Workout Volume 1. Overall, I was really satisfied with the workouts and what I was able to accomplish indoors. I definitely didn’t expect to be sweating a lot from exercising indoors.” -Susan, Ballet

“This entire process has been new, yet exciting in several ways. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, I have found this online class to be something I look forward to on the daily. Being locked inside of my home due to this quarantine has caused me to go to a lonely place, leaving my mental state in pieces. However, I have found that following along with these assigned videos has caused me to do something useful with my time while also taking care of my mental and physical health!” “I have had a lot going on mentally but have given these online courses all my efforts. It is difficult trying to adapt to such a new world but with time, I have no doubt that the grass will become greener! With time management and a solid mindset, I plan to become the best student (and dancer) that I can be!” -Gabi, Modern

“In conclusion the outcome of all my work done this week was very progressive. I feel myself being more balanced and moving in a more positive direction. I think for the future this week really helped me improve the fundamentals of dance and this will help me build to improve my dance skills. Not only in dance but also in soccer. Flexibility, balance and body awareness are very important in all sports. With all the gyms being closed to this is a great and fun way to stay in shape AND get better at dancing and learning new ways to move my body. I love that it focuses a lot on individual parts of your body in the warm up but then as the videos go on and I watched more it really was using all parts of my body and giving me a great workout while also being very entertaining and interesting. It wasn’t all so serious and I even had my little brother join me for some of them.” -Chloe, Modern

“I found all of these picks I chose from the class reels this week, to be challenging and I am looking forward to strengthening my body for my future in dance. I look forward to seeing myself progress in the different dance and workout variations I do week to week. I will miss being in class with my fellow Modern I people, in the PAC studio, and dancing under your choreography and class training, however this opportunity allows me to hone in on muscle, endurance, and flexibility training alongside exposing myself to various instructors’ training that I otherwise would not have access to.” -Maria, Modern

“Overall, the ab workouts that were provided, were amazing, and I believe I will see plenty of improvement physically. My turns will become even more powerful, and my jumps will become even more controlled. I will recommend the workouts to not only dancers, but anybody willing to challenge their selves, and willing to make themselves feel and look better.” Nasir, Modern

“Overall, I felt myself getting stronger with each class I took this week. I already feel like I’m gaining some strength back that I may have lost from being off for the past two weeks, and I’m excited to continue working.” Julia, Ballet

“I started with Monday’s abs and then worked my way through the days. They are very short videos but super intense, which is good because it also allows for that necessary cardio to keep the heart rate elevated and the blood pumping. I am very sore in the abdominals after doing those this week but it is paying off. Also, these intense abdominal exercises have taught me how to breathe better when going through the postures.” “I really enjoyed the videos and they're making me really happy. They are also keeping me from going insane. I just wanted to say that I appreciate the work you put into this because I know it wasn't easy and I thought you should know that your work is very much appreciated. Of course, I would rather much take the class in person because those are the best times but this website is a close 2nd! Thank you again.” -Jordan, Ballet

“After the first break he gave us, my body was already feeling the workout. It felt great though, and it made me want to continue. I actually enjoyed how he was engaged with the audience. There were times where he would make jokes or make the audience laugh, which I feel is important because it kept me entertained. His workout was very beneficial as well. At the end of the workout, I felt it. By the end, I was exhausted. I think it’s cool that he does things that he feels most people might be able to do. He also keeps in mind the people who may not be able to do some of these workouts the way he does them, which is why he comes up with modified versions for these people. It’s very effective because they still get the chance to work out. Overall, I really enjoyed this. It was new to me and well needed. I would definitely watch and participate in more of his workout classes.” -Itik, Ballet

“This week I have set goals for myself. I have little goals that apply to each online class I do, to weekly goals, to goals for the whole semester. Each class I try to stay motivated and do every single exercise completely full out. My weekly goals are to have worked out/danced/stretched every day and obviously to get 5 hours in. My goals for the whole semester are to be more flexible by the end of it and to explore more on my own choreographic style with this extra time that I have. I will not have rehearsals anymore for the senior choreographers concert, so the time that I would normally be putting into that, I can put into this. I have never seen myself as a choreographer, I just classify myself as a dancer and have never been the best at choreographing. But what better time than now to at least explore and see what I can do.” -Camryn, Modern

“I focused on these things to get an idea of what kind of stretches and exercises I could do whenever I feel I am lacking in a certain area of my body. The workouts are easy to remember and can be done almost anywhere with modifications. In the future I can use these exercises on my own time when I need an extra boost in areas such as my core, arms, or legs so I can get my body where it needs to be.” – Megan, Modern

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