Natalie Slipko, adjunct dance professor, watches a student's video presentation. The Wonder Woman doll, a present from her mom, makes her laugh and reminds her to always persevere and never give up, she says.

Natalie Slipko, '93, adjunct dance professor, has faced the daunting challenge of transitioning her classes to an online environment by using a number of resources, including creating a private Facebook page and using YouTube to share lectures, dance demonstrations, and warmups “in a fun, yet educational manner.” Students can watch classes in real time and again on their own time, as well as post their own video projects to learn from one another. While the situation is not ideal for a course that is as creative and theatrical as Slipko’s, she is doing what she can to make it fair and safe, yet challenging, for her students.

Slipko mirror vert2

Natalie Slipko teaches "One" from “A Chorus Line,” using a mirror to show her students body posture and style from their perspective.

“The students and I miss the human interaction,” she admitted. “I can't correct their technique in person or have them do really difficult steps in their own space. I wouldn't want an injury.”

To ensure the safety of her students, Slipko asked them if dancing in their space would be possible, given the fact everyone’s floor is different. “They were enthusiastic,” she said, so she decided to require them to dance, wherever they were. 

Camera angles and tight spaces created additional obstacles to conducting a class that requires students to do steps across the floor, turns, and barre work, and made it more difficult to judge their progress. But Slipko said she didn’t want to “resort to having them watch a dance video and comment on it,” so she taught them many of the same things she would have had they been in a proper dance space.

“I have found the students have done a remarkable job learning their graded dance combinations after watching my prerecorded instruction,” she said, noting that the live Facebook sessions were helpful in allowing them to comment on what they were learning. “They also did a great job with a styles project presentation I gave them that they had to do via video and a written MLA outline. Some of them were very creative in their approach!

“Bottom line, nothing really replaces one-on-one instruction in person by a teacher,” she continued. “I know students feel that way, too. But this is better than nothing!”

Your Thoughts