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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.

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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