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Learn a New Skill or Strengthen Your Side Hustle With These Free Online Courses

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Many dancers are finding themselves with an unprecedented amount of downtime. After all, there are only so many hours you can spend taking barre in your living room or streaming at-home workout classes.

But what about that nondance skill you're always wanted to sharpen?

Whether you're finding yourself curious, cash-strapped or a mix of both, now's the time to dive into skills to strengthen—or develop—your side hustle. In light of the coronavirus, many companies are offering free or discounted online courses covering just about everything under the sun. Here's a sampling of what's available.


Coursera

Browse complimentary classes from Coursera, which offers training from top companies and universities in a plethora of subjects, here. Choose from topics like personal branding, from the University of Virginia; DSLR photography basics, from Michigan State University; and how to build an Android app, from CentraleSupélec—all free through May 31.

Brit + Co

Women-driven digital media outlet Brit + Co is waiving fees for its online courses through April 9. Use code "SELFCARE" at checkout. Exercise your creativity as you try out a new skill like calligraphy or cake decorating, or retool your company's Instagram strategy.

Skillshare

High school and college students can redeem two months of complimentary access to Skillshare's premium membership. Choose from thousands of classes ranging from graphic design to web development. If you're thinking about offering your services as a freelancer, check out this course for pointers on pricing your work and negotiating with clients.

Fender Play

Maybe it's time to dust off that guitar that's taken up residence in the corner of your room. Fender Play is comping a three-month trial to its online music lessons to the first 500,000 people to sign up. Study guitar, bass or ukulele with professional instructors.

edX

EdX connects the living-room learner with more than 2,500 courses from 140 institutions. Dive into the principles of launching a startup with Babson College, or take a python programming class for absolute beginners from the University of Michigan—at no cost. The nutrition, exercise and sports course from the Netherlands' Wageningen University & Research may be of special interest to dancers who are curious about exercise physiology and sports nutrition.

Udemy

Online global learning platform Udemy has created a collection of 150-plus free courses in light of COVID-19. One we're eyeing: best practices for working remotely. There are also classes on how to start a podcast or a blog, design a website, or polish your writing or public speaking skills.

Plus, many of its paid courses—including training in popular Adobe programs like Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere Pro and Lightroom—have been deeply discounted.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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