Lessons From Hosting a Zoom dance
by Janet Nardolillo
Our local English Country Dance community has not been together since our March 1, 2020 dance in Albany. Many online dance opportunities have become available in the intervening months, and these have been posted on the Country Dance and Song Society web site. Many of these attract dancers from around the globe and often see 100+ participants. We wanted to offer something more local so that our dancers could experience Zoom dancing with other familiar folks, and so that we could visit easily with one another in the Zoom format. Our first effort was October 4, 2020, which in an ordinary dance season would have been our first in person dance. The event was scheduled for 2 – 3:30 pm.
Hosting the event on my Zoom account, I was responsible for testing links and sound, inviting participants, and monitoring the event. Here are some practices I found helpful:
1. Testing links and sound. Once our caller, Carmen Giunta, had accepted our invitation, I scheduled a test session with him and five dancers several days before the event. Having attended Carmen’s Zoom dances, we knew his technology would be good, but we wanted to be sure ours was up to speed. I made Carmen a co-host, which enabled him to share his computer sound (recorded music) and his headphone microphone for calling. We learned to create a second co-host when my computer unexpectedly and temporarily went blank with an error message.
2. Inviting participants. To avoid Zoom bombing by unwanted persons, we invited participants by email and asked that the Zoom information NOT be posted on any social media or Web sites. I used our CECD listings for members and frequent dancers and the ECDCAP email group created by Don Bell. We advertised the event as a “get together and dance” to entice folks to participate. I requested RSVPs and sent the Zoom link only to those who responded. This kept our numbers in the range of 30 or so dancers. I sent the Zoom invitation on the morning of the event so that it would be fresh in people’s in-
3. Monitoring the event. Logging on, I immediately created co-host positions for our caller and another board member. I allowed entry from the waiting room. We had agreed in advance on the structure o the event: 3 dances, a conversation time in breakout rooms, 3 more dances, another conversation time, and 2 or 3 more dances. I allowed the computer to randomize the break out room participation in each of the two sessions. The Zoom room remained open after the hour and a half to allow for more conversation.
All in all, hosting a local event was a rewarding experience. We may try for a few more online events during this time when dancing together in person is still not safe.
Janet Nardolillo is President of Capital English Country Dancers
Read more about this event from Nancy Yule, Program Director of CECD