What can we say about 2020? What. A. Year.
When we entered the first lockdown, I think we all thought it may be for a few weeks. Little did we know, months later we would still be confined to our homes, clapping for the NHS and only seeing our family and friends on zoom. We decided in May to start an online timetable for our students. We thought they needed the continuity and connection as it looked like we were going to be in this for the long haul. We set challenges and kept in contact with the JA family, but we knew how much everyone was missing learning and seeing their friends!
We started a reduced timetable on Zoom and we are so glad we did. To see the students progress, in their living rooms/ bedrooms/ conservatories and one- I promise this is true- in the loft (!!) truly was heartwarming. If they can achieve this much in a global pandemic, what can they achieve when we get back to normal! We continued in zoomland until the end of July.
Then we were told….. we were allowed to return to the studio, with strict guidelines in place. It was such exciting news! We pride ourselves on doing things properly here. Our students and families welfare come first second and last, we took many precautions to make our next step safe. Independent risk assessments, sanitising stations, ventilation, socially distanced boxes to name a few, but still trying to keep it normal and fun for everyone! The last thing we wanted to do, is to constantly remind our students of the “virus.”
We wanted the studios to be what they always have been, a bit of an escape from daily life and a safe space to learn in! August was a dream. We held weekly classes, in all subjects and seeing our students bounce out of class every week just made us more determined to encourage them to succeed. We even designed “we danced through lockdown t shirts” which were a huge hit! Then came Mr Johnson’s October announcement… back into lockdown we went! But this time, we had an end date which I think made this a little easier to bear. We continued with online classes, theming each week and holding Saturday workshops in show makeup, fairy wand making, yoga classes, family quizzes, you name it, we made sure provided something for every member of our JA family!
We even worked towards a December showcase which we produced virtually, another learning curve for the team and students alike! In December, we were back and with our trusty Christmas tree up, daily visits from “Elfie” & we performed and filmed our showcase (you can find this on our YouTube channel if you would like to view it!) the students worked so hard- as always and had really conquered a lot. From learning at home to coming back to the studio, it really did transpire how dedicated and amazing our students are, to produce all of this work in such a turbulent term.
We also managed to rearrange (for the third time) our ISTD Tap & Jazz exams. These were held at JAPAHQ, Via the ISTD’s online platform. Our incredible team managed to achieve fantastic marks and a 100% pass rate (we wouldn’t expect anything less!) We couldn’t believe our luck in December when, the big man himself came to visit us via Zoom! (Father Christmas that is, not BoJo.) We thought our students would enjoy a little “Christmas magic” and it was a beautiful thing to watch their little faces.
For our older students, we arranged a virtual pamper and movie afternoon. We provided them some little care packages and had a great time eating sweets and catching up! January 2021 saw us, once again in a lockdown. We decided to make sure all of our students had an aim and a focus. We produced progress chats, fitness and choreography challenges and small research tasks to make sure we engaged them as much as possible.
With our junior, & upper junior Musical Theatre and Hip Hop students, we have produced a brand new play called “Alice in zoomland” which has kept us excited and entertained over the last few months. And so here we are… we are keeping everything crossed we are on the way out of this lockdown, even tighter crossed it will be for the last time.
But, we like to think, whatever the next few months holds, we can handle anything that gets thrown our way!
If you would like to know a little more about us, feel free to pop us a message with any questions you may have.