The Making of Cardio Dance Kickbox On Demand

We have been hard at work finding new ways to bring our community exciting movement classes while in the midst of a pandemic. Our top priority is keeping everyone safe, and in an effort to do that, we have begun creating virtual classes with our incredible team. I reached out to one of our teaching artists, Natasha, one of our teaching assistants, Lily, and our videographer, Taylor, to hear about their experiences creating our Cardio Dance/Kickboxing class. 

Tell me a bit about your background.

Natasha: I began taking recreational dance classes when I was young, and I loved taking my mom’s cardio fitness classes at the YMCA. I was a certified Zumba instructor for three years and graduated with a BA in Dance Studies from Appalachian State University in 2014. After moving to Austin in 2015, I started taking classes in the community and danced for a few local companies. I have since co-founded my own dance company, ZATERO Dance, and have recently begun to explore teaching movement based classes again.  

Lily: I have been dancing and performing since the age of seven. In short, movement and dance have been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. My dance background includes Mexican folkloric dancing, drill team, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical, jazz, ballet, modern, and improv. 

Taylor: I’m originally from Memphis and moved out to Austin a little over a year ago. I knew Austin is a very artistic town full of very talented people so I was really excited about the opportunities the city had to offer. 

Natasha, how did you get into kickboxing?

Natasha: My mom used to teach cardio kickboxing classes at the YMCA, so I would take them when I went to work with her. Remembering how much I loved those classes, I decided I wanted to try kickboxing on the bag when I moved to Austin. I was a member at ilovekickboxing on South Lamar for about three years, and have continued to train with various boxing and kickboxing coaches since. Kickboxing and dance both require rhythm. Kickboxing feels like dance to me because when you settle into a rhythm and grind it out, it feels so good! There are so many ways to combine the kickboxing combos so that you feel like you’re dancing once you get the hang of it. 

Lily, have you ever done kickboxing or taken a kickboxing class before? 

Lily: Yes, but not a ton of experience. Previous to being Natasha’s teaching assistant, I had only taken 3 classes.

Did you face any challenges while filming?

Natasha: No major challenges other than missing the people. One of the best things about live cardio kickbox or dance classes is the energy that feeds the room and encourages everyone to keep on moving. That energy was different in a virtual setting.  

Lily: Overall things ran pretty smoothly. I think the biggest challenge was that I didn’t know what was happening next; meaning I was learning all of the patterns in real-time. I had a few hiccups, but it was also cool because I got to have the experience of everyone who will be taking the class for the first time.

Taylor: Not many challenges filming the class. I think the main challenge was having to deal with the Texas heat since this class was filmed outside and adjusting the lighting to the sun setting. 

Natasha and Lily, what was it like teaching and assisting this class virtually as opposed to live in-person?

Natasha: In-person cardio classes are awesome because you can read the energy of the room and tailor the workout based on who is there. If you see that people need more time to catch up, you can take it slower. If you see that they need a challenge, you can pump it up. It’s difficult to create a virtual class that caters to your audience if you don’t know exactly who is in your audience. One of the benefits of teaching virtually is the ability to stop and start again if you mess up.   

Lily: Virtually assisting is interesting because I didn’t realize how much of a difference it is to assist in an in person class versus pre-recorded. In person you can feed off of the energy of those around you and you can see everyone in the class. But when pre-recording classes, the only person in front of you is the cameraman. It’s silly but I found myself not knowing where to look. But I will have to say being able to pause or start over was really nice!

Taylor, what was it like using your videography skills to help create a virtual dance class? 

Taylor: It was an interesting experience being behind the camera during a virtual dance class. It’s something I’ve never had the opportunity to film so it was exciting having a new perspective. My favorite part about being a videographer is the ability to enhance the quality of a scene. You can totally transform something ordinary into extraordinary.

What was it like working with your collaborators? 

Natasha: The team was fun to work with! Once we got settled in and decided how we were going to film, everyone jumped right in and it went smoothly. I could not have asked for a better team to work with for this series. 

Lily: It was great! Natasha came very prepared and was willing to go over a few things before we started shooting, and Taylor was patient and easy to work with. We had a discussion of how the shoot was going to go and we were able to jump right on in!

Taylor: It was great working with Natasha and Lily. They are both so friendly and easy to work with. They are both very talented at what they do so it’s always nice to see people in their element and being able to capture it. 

What are you most excited about this season with Dance Waterloo? 

Natasha: I am excited about the variety of activities that Dance Waterloo is offering this season. The company has done a lot of work to plan a diverse curriculum and is offering safe platforms for teachers and students to continue their creative exploration. I particularly love the Low Impact for High Impact series because I think it’s important to support local BIPOC communities, and I enjoy the different classes that are being offered through that program. 

Lily: I am most excited about all the collaborations that Dance Waterloo is fostering. In times where we can feel very disconnected from each other because we are unable to have normal in person activities, it is nice to be a part of a collaboration that is trying to reach several different audiences while committing to different causes.

Taylor: I think I’m most excited about the transition and ability to do more virtual experiences. I think it’s great that we are able to still portray the craft in these crazy times through the use of today’s technology.  

Final thoughts —

Lily: I love the different styles of classes and I love that I can sign up for one or a series. The flexibility of being able to take live or get a recording to do on my own time is great. Thanks, Dance Waterloo!

Thank you, Natasha, Lily, and Taylor for sharing your experiences, and shoutout to everyone involved who helped bring this class to life!

To learn more about this class, you can email us at info@dancewaterloo.org or message us on social media @dancewaterloo, and be sure to check out our Alexander Technique and Low Impact for High Impact series!

Noelle Billings

Executive Director

Dance Waterloo

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