Dancing Through… with DNA

Dance Network Association (DNA)
Written by Artistic Director Gemma Wright

DNA are the only dance organisation to sit on 3 Local Cultural Educational Partnerships within Essex playing an important role in supporting a collaborative approach to the cultural ecology of Essex regions, alongside other cultural organisations, schools and Bridge organisations and we are a well-respected cultural organisation.

Here is, we believe, an inspiring list of ideas we have tested to keep our community of dancers moving throughout the pandemic.

Social Dis-Dancing – We started lockdown 1.0 by offering 2 x full days of classes – one in April and one in May. We had a variety of dance classes from our full programme for each age range.  This was a great way to connect with our current dancers and new people nationally as anyone could attend. We offered live and pre-recorded sessions across the whole day and people could pick and choose what they came to. Each session lasted around 30 minutes, so people were not locked onto screens for masses of time. We made sure we had enough time to really market the sessions so as many people could access the classes as possible. In total over 500 people joined the two dates and we raised £1600.00 in donations as a ‘pay what you can afford’ programme.

Creative movement postcards – Since April we have been sending our adult dancers movement tasks on postcards. Many of these groups do not have access to technology so they are unable to join us in a Zoom setting or otherwise, and therefore we have stayed connected by sending them tasks on postcards. We have created ours for mass print but if you have a small group how wonderful to receive a handwritten task that they can do in the comfort of their own homes! We have asked them to send us feedback by sending them a stamped addressed envelope and a reply postcard. Maybe you could even ask them to send you a task in return?

Dancing Through Lockdown Resource Book – We have created a resource book on our ‘Canva’ design programme which includes a class from each of our practitioners. It has been offered to all our community via emailable PDF format and will be printed and sent to all our dancers over Christmas. We cannot wait to hear their feedback on this one. A magical Christmas card alternative!

Props Packages and DVDs – we have created and sent each of our older and Parkinson’s dancers a props package and a DVD with 5 classes on to keep them moving at home. The props package was also delivered in a particularly creative way – through our project Doorstep Dancing. Two of our artists created a piece of choreography to show our dancers how to make the best use of their props. They have been dancing on our ‘dancers’ doorsteps to hand out these packages. For the DVDs we teamed up with our local college who helped us to edit and get the films onto DVD format.

Winter Resilience – We have created an online resource library of short 3 -minute videos for people to keep safe in their environments through the winter. Created initially for older adults to support prevention of falls in a facemask, we took this idea and thought about everyday tasks and then linked that to a movement / dance task that people could complete. Each day throughout November these are being released on our social media channel, but they have also been sent to all our community partners to share with care home and sheltered housing scheme residents each day. We have also created a couple of sides of A4 which will show a snapshot of the video and an explanation of how to follow the tasks for those again not able to access technology

Postivi-TEA – We have been offering weekly social get together for those that can join us for a chat and a cuppa, and a little self-expression movement called ‘Dance Like No-Ones Watching’.   Between us we chose 10 minutes of music tracks that are uplifting, and we just turn our cameras off and just move to the shared music! In all our classes we have a social element that which allows for peer support networks to grow and develop so that no one ever feels alone. So these tea moments are to keep these connections and friendships alive.

Good old phone calls and letters We have sent various letters to our dancers and have made regular phone calls. These have been very well received by a largely non-technical generation who really benefit from social interaction.

Dancing through… lockdown 2.0 With thanks to the Culture Recovery Grant we have been able to contract and deliver a new set of weekly classes. The idea here is to keep everyone dancing every day! #creatingdanceforall. Full class descriptions are on our website.


All classes are free but if you can help support us get beyond this pandemic, we would very much appreciate your donations! You can show your support here.