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How we made Perform At Home

Lockdown arrived without warning but we were determined not to let that stop our mission to deliver confidence-building fun! Perform Producer, Abby Restall, tells us what it's been like to run Perform At Home online classes.

I was thrilled when I heard we'd be running online drama, dance and singing classes for 4-12s over Zoom but I have to admit I was sceptical about how well it would work. I'm usually the teacher running around with the children, crawling along the floor in an adventure and dancing like nobody's watching so I couldn't imagine how we could recreate that online. Nevertheless, I was very much up for the challenge.

​Seeing and hearing the children I normally teach in person was amazing and quite moving.

I needn't have worried. From Day One, the sessions were a real success and I found seeing and hearing the children I normally teach in person was amazing and actually quite moving. It took me a while to get used to not hearing them laugh at my jokes during our class adventures. but I think I've got better at lip reading and I love watching the children have so much fun.

For most of the class, we ask parents to put us on Speaker View and I 'spotlight' my own video so I'm big on their screen. The children can see thumbnail images of the other children who are participating so it feels like they are part of a class. For some games, we spotlight individual children, meaning they pop up everyone's screen - it all works really well and the children love having their 'moment'.

Whatever space is available, I get the children up and running about, bouncing through our funky dance moves and flying off on our magical adventures. As long as they stay within the screen view, we very much encourage the children to jump up, get moving and dance, as they would in one of our usual weekly classes.

​...younger children tend to forget the other children can see them and just totally go for it!

Some quieter children have really benefitted from Perform At Home. Most of the time, unless playing a solo speaking game, the children are muted to ensure that everyone can hear me. The kids know this, which seems to make them less concerned about what others may think. With me as the main image on their screen, a lot of younger children tend to forget that the other children can see them, so they just totally go for it! 

Whilst Perform At Home has been different to our usual weekly workshops, it has been a really special thing to be a part of during these challenging times. Juggling space restrictions at home and having to manage Zoom at the same time as interacting with the children means I've certainly mastered some new skills, but ultimately the Producer's energy, fun and imagination that makes a great class - just like our normal sessions. 

Knowing that I've been able to bring a sense of normality into the children's lives when they're at home without friends and favourite activities - making them laugh and giving them the best fun of the week (what we do best) - has been a real pleasure. The feedback we have received from parents has been lovely.

Siya had an amazing time today, it's the first time I've seen her truly happy in about 6 weeks. - Priya Sandhu

Perform At Home is running throughout July and August. Book a FREE class today.

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