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Dakoda’s Dance Academy: Small Business Leaps Through Lockdown

Dakoda’s Dance Academy: Small Business Leaps Through Lockdown

How have our beloved small businesses adapted to life in lockdown? We spoke with Dakoda Matthews-Forth, founder and director of Dakoda’s Dance Academy to find out how this small business providing dance and performing arts classes to children of London since 2007 has adapted to lockdown.

Based in South West London, DDA started small and now runs over 35 weekly classes to children from the age of 2 – 17. There are a wide range of dance styles including – RAD Ballet, Street Dance / Hip Hop, Musical Theatre, Contemporary, Jazz, Tap, Acro/Gymnastics as well as Singing and Drama.

How has the pandemic affected you and your business? How did you operate before?

With dance being so hands-on, the changes Covid-19 have brought are very prevalent. D.D.A also works within many schools such as The American School, Ursuline Prep School, Finton House and our classes at these schools are not continuing as normal. We ran weekly after-school classes during term time that we have now taken online. It was quite obvious to us that there would be some sort of closure of schools in the first few months of the pandemic and that allowed us time to put our heads together and come up with a solution. Either ride it out or adapt and carry on.

How did you pivot your business? What was the response from your clients?

We very quickly put together pre-recorded classes for the last two weeks of the school term to ensure the children could finish their expected learning. However – we knew it would be vital to continue to interact with our students in real time.

We know just how important it is to continue to dance, sing and act even if only in your living room, how amazing our community of like minded teachers, parents and students really are and lastly just how much we still needed that spirit to carry on. In light of that we decided to offer our clients Digital DDA Classes. An extensive schedule of online classes that their child can actually ‘show up’ to and join along in real time for good physical, mental and emotional health. We fully believe that our live on-line classes are continuing to enhance the lives of our children.

As well the child’s live class content where they can continue to ask questions and interact with their teacher, we are adding pre recorded exercises, challenges, dance dictionaries, break downs and more. This is tailored the child’s level and helps further inspire them to progress. We want to bring out the best of who we are as an Academy and we know that ‘Digital DDA’ will be transformative in many ways.

The overwhelming response from the majority of our clients was that their children wanted to continue to dance, sing and act. The children missed their teachers, class mates and joy that their classes brought to them. Online classes certainly are not without challenges – but we are overcoming them.

Once things go ‘back to normal’ do you think you’ll continue to run classes online? Has it actually been an opportunity to explore new options?

We certainly hope to get back to a ‘new normal’ in due course – nothing can replace the feeling of a studio! Classes may continue online for some students. It may also be necessary if class sizes need to be kept small. We may also consider offering further pre-recorded classes.

What lessons are you taking away from this experience?

Adapt, adapt, adapt. Be open to new ways and never underestimate the power of positive thinking (and dance!). For example, we’ve learnt all sorts of new skills how to make great video, lighting and sound issues are something we have never had to deal with however these things are so important and need to be learned.

Anything else you’d like to add?

From the Lyrics of Everybody’s Free (to wear Sunscreen) by Baz Luhrmann: “Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room”.

To learn more about DDA’s classes follow them online here:
Website / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook


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