With much of the nation in virtual lockdown, dancers and fitness experts across the country have started online classes to keep their audiences active. Bronx-based choreographer Aya Jane Saotome has joined in the fun.
“With studios closed, the online dance class explosion has transported us into a new portal of virtual reality,” said the trained ballerina. “Kitchen counter ballet barres, closet choreography, and living room dance floors are all around.”
Saotome teaches an Absolute Beginner Jazz online dance class on Sundays at 11 am, for Sweet Water Dance & Yoga. She taught in-person classes prior to the pandemic at Sweet Water’s Bronx studio at Gerard and 161st Street.
To get the most out of online classes in the home, where there is no hands-on instructor guiding you while you get your needed daily exercise, Saotome offers a few simple tips to keep you safe as you dance to your heart’s content.
• Listen to your body. If something feels too much or is causing you pain, stop.
• Watch out for others in your space – particularly small people and pets not usually found at the studio or gym. They can sometimes sneak up on you!
• Open up a window if you can, and get fresh air flowing. Indoor air can be stale and less refreshing, especially while exercising. Get the energy moving through your home and your
• Warm up before you begin. Keep in mind you moved a lot more than you might think, just getting youself to the studio or gym in normal times. If a class warm-up isn’t enough, prepare your body on your own, before joining the online class. “I love a short dynamic yoga practice before dancing to get everything going,” she says.
• Stay hydrated.
• Be mindful of what floor you are dancing on and adjust movements as necessary. Leaving out jumps on hard floors is a good idea for your joints and your downstairs neighbors’ sanity.
• Take a rest and feel good about it. Look after your body, your mind, and heart.
Saotome moved to the Mott Haven area from London seven years ago after she graduated from London Contemporary Dance School with a BA in Dance. For several years, she taught yoga at the Mitchell Center in Mott Haven.
She’s performed with Movement Angol Contemporary African Dance Company, IrvenLewis Jazz Dance Theater and Off the Rails Dance (Belfast), and has danced in categories ranging from salsa, hip-hop, swing, and even roller skating.
To find out more about the classes and schedules Saotome offers, you can find her at @ayayajanes on Instagram and ayajsaotome.weebly.com