During the spring, as Punahou shifted to distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Punahou Dance School likewise pivoted to virtual instruction, which required extensive choreographing itself. The planning actually began prior to spring break, when a campus lockdown seemed likely. Dance School Director Kristin Ing ’90 Aune polled the dance faculty to see who was equipped to teach from home. She also considered ways instructors could teach online classes from a sanitized dance studio. In less than two weeks, Aune and her team reorganized the schedule, offering 25 virtual classes to 500 students who registered for over 1,000 spaces in ballet, musical theatre, jazz, tap and street dance. Five-to-seven-minute instructional videos were shot to substitute for classes that could not be offered live.
There were definitely logistical challenges and questions. Could dancers wear pointe shoes at home? What about the lag time between audio and video? Should they livestream or videoconference? Despite the issues, the crew came up with innovative solutions like organizing musical theatre dance parties and offering Marley and DIY barre kits for ballet students. It wasn’t perfect, and safety considerations were always paramount. But if you gotta dance, you will. And the unanticipated plus has been that alumni and their children have been able to take part from across the pond.
This fall, Punahou Dance School will be offering 40 online classes a week in ballet, jazz, musical theatre, street dance and tap. Classes will be open to the public (though upper levels require teacher approval for admission).
For information about dance classes offered through Punahou Dance School, please view Punahou School’s Co-Curricular webpage. To align with preparations that are being taken for students’ return in the fall, all Dance School offerings will be taught in a synchronous online format. Fall registration for Punahou families begins July 22, and registration for visiting families begins July 29.