None of us ever imagined that a global pandemic would happen, yet it did when Covid 19 ravaged the world and threw all of us into life situations we did not ask for. The question we learned to ask was not about the adversity that came our way but rather how we could respond to it and turn it into an opportunity.
I realized I needed to tackle virtual lessons head-on so I could continue to teach and choreograph for my skaters in 8 states and 4 countries. We needed to continue to advance their skills and refine their choreography throughout the pandemic on Zoom. In the beginning, I wondered if it would be possible to create new programs virtually. But over time and with an abundance of practice, I realized just how successful Zoom lessons could be.
The first new program I choreographed online was for U.S. Senior Man, Will Hubbert. Just before the pandemic hit, I was scheduled to fly to Florida to choreograph Will’s new short along with a host of other Junior and Novice skaters for Coach Cindy Caprel. In mid-March of 2019, everything shut down.
All rinks in the country were closed and nobody was skating or teaching. When Will first approached me with the idea of choreographing his new short program virtually, I was surprised. Will said we could do so on his driveway as he had strong Wi-Fi out there. Leave it to the young to see this as an opportunity rather than a setback. So away we went, Will in his shorts and tennis shoes on his driveway and me with my computer on the floor in my hallway. It was crazy!
Once Will was able to get back on the ice after the new short was choreographed, it was time to shift to Zoom lessons on the ice. We needed to see if this experiment was successful and if the program would work on the ice. I am happy to report that it worked beautifully except for one small miscalculation. I allotted too much time for his flying spin in real time so we added some choreography after the spin to make it work. That situation gave me the confidence to move full steam ahead to choreograph on Zoom for many skaters from Pre-Juvenile through Senior. It was exciting to work with my skaters from all over the country again.
Since starting this way of choreographing, I found a pair of ear pods with an ear guard that comes in colors as white is difficult to find if one falls out during a fast spin. These ear pods can be purchased on Amazon for about $30 and typically arrive in two to three days.
Some of my skaters turn triple jumps using these ear pods and they stay on, which is remarkable. I play the music from the speaker in the Zoom Room and use a hockey whiteboard to draw the patterns for the skaters. After every lesson, they receive an updated PPC Planned Program Content Sheet with their step sequences clearly written out for them to practice and perfect. In addition, I follow up each lesson by sending a picture of the whiteboard for the skater and head coach to use for their training. I also request that each skater and coach send me their protocol sheets and video after every competition. This allows me to review and make adjustments throughout the season. This process has been remarkably successful.
Choreographing virtually can have advantages. Skating families are no longer required to pay travel expenses for a full day of choreography all at one time in the rink. Doing them virtually, creating short and/or long programs in smaller chunks provides skaters with a chance to practice the new parts of their program created each day and to get feedback at the next lesson. And the families are simply charged for the lesson time which is payable by Zelle or PayPal after each lesson. This can relieve a financial burden for the parents each season.
So, if you didn’t think you could get a program choreographed by a World and Olympic choreographer, think again. I always work in conjunction with the head coach to create beautiful and artistic programs programmed to make it easy for each skater to be successful. We make certain that the cardio and execution of the technical elements are there so that each program is successful.
For more information please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 909-838-3340.
The session is over and the Zamboni is coming out.