In this episode, Kylie Jordan, Programs Coordinator at Ettingshausens Performing Arts, shares with us some amazing strategies that help them transition their services from face-to-face to online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She also shares the challenges they faced and how they and their students adapted. She discussed some industry changes that will have an effect on their education strategies.

She also shared her experience taking Vivacity’s Education in Isolation course.

In this episode:

  • Who Kylie is and what she does
  • She is the Programs Coordinator at Ettingshausens Performing Arts, a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that runs pre-professional training for dancers
  • Students train through their junior years with their local dance school and usually some of the students are identified as having potential to take on a career in the performing arts area.
  • “We teach them (students) a lot of things that they really need to know to get out there in that very competitive environment.”
  • “They (students) come to us because we offer a really high-quality level of training with lots of industry professionals that are available to us. We have a reputation of delivering great industry knowledge so that they’re really prepared well for the industry.”
  • “Part of their learning and development is working with other dancers and simulating that audition environment, being part of a cast or an ensemble. So it’s really important that the training we provide is face to face.”
  • “The thing about the dance industry is you often don’t learn really what you need until you’re on the job and you’re getting employed, but in order to get employed, you have to understand what it’s going to be like. So we have to assimilate a lot of those environments for the dancers, so that they’re ready.”
  • The biggest challenge the RTO faced as a result of COVID-19
  • “I felt like the world had ended the week before they announced that we had to close our doors. It really was a very eerie feeling as COVID was starting to shut down all the different sectors.”
  • What hurdles did Kylie face and how did she overcome them?
  • The first challenge was “How do we regroup? How do we keep them connected and not lose all of our students?”
  • Their company had to shut down on a Monday afternoon and then by Wednesday, same week, they were up and live on zoom, basically running a couple of classes.
  • “It was really important for me to remain positive and focused on the future and making sure that we could continue.”
  • “We were allowed to make mistakes,” Kylie said relating to Covid-19’s impact on the company’s transition from face-to-face classes to online.
  • What solutions did Kylie come up with when they need to create an online platform to continue education with their students online?
  • “I was really emotional about this whole experience and having Vivacity to launch something like Education in Isolation really helped me personally, just to know that there were some other people going through the same thing.”
  • The first thing Kylie did was to take time to plan out their steps pre-Covid. She then contacted her team, talked about their situation, and put a framework in place.
  • “There is still very much this perception that dance and the performing arts is not a real job.”
  • “When it (classes) went onto the online platform, a couple of parents did contact us and say, ‘We don’t think this is the same course. How are you going to do it?’ And that actually put me off a bit.”
  • “Communication is the key in situations like this.”
  • What does Kylie think is her biggest achievement after all of this?
  • The challenges of ensuring students kept up physical distancing requirements as they begin returning to the studio
  • As students returned to face-to-face training Kylie noticed that they had all actually improved. 
  • “I feel like we were able to better cater to different learners. And so I don’t think there’s a single dancer that has not improved and has not seen some personal growth.”
  • What Kylie expects the company as an RTO will look like in 12 months’ time? 
  • Kylie sees opportunities with collaboration for learning with choreographers, entertainers, and agencies interstate and from other countries online unlike before.
  • “Accountability is much better when they’re coming into the studio. One thing I struggled with within the Zoom environment is that we’re really strict on attendance because this obviously a practical course. And in the Covid environment, I really had to let go of that strict attendance.”
  • “When they’re at home training and learning, it seems like the parents’ expectations change. And they, kind of, some of the parents were like interrupting their training quite regularly and asking them to do other things and not sort of respecting their learning environment.”
  • Kylie said that she foresees that the ‘Industry has changed forever’. What aspects does she believe will be different and how will she apply solutions based on her training with Vivacity?
  • “Like the thing is, with cruise ships in the last two-three years, Australians have really jumped on that whole cruise ship contract area and they’re off on cruise ships all over the world. I’m sure many of our listeners have been on cruise ships and a lot of the entertainers are Australians. We’re not certain that that’s going to continue because we don’t think that there’ll be as many cruise ship contracts available or theme park contracts available in the short term.”
  • Kylie did some industry consultations to come up with strategies for her students moving forward.
  • Kylie and her team have asked their students to start considering other avenues for future, real-world employment like in the television, and pre-recorded content for musicals, back-up dancing, commercial dancing for all of the major artists and all of those things that arena events where a lot of our dances perform and work. 
  • How Kylie keeps motivated each day
  • “I feel very strongly about delivering the best course, the best program for these students. They’ve invested a year of their life with us.”
  • Kylie loves helping the next generation and giving their students those really important life skills. “So essentially they (students) keep me motivated and when they come back into the space and they’re so excited to see each other, I go ‘Yeap. It was definitely worth it’.”
  • “If you just ask and you just move together, you can really do anything.”