Heather Barton - Line Dancing Through Lockdown
Our teacher this week needs no introduction, it’s the fabulous Heather Barton! Heather is a both a line dance instructor and a choreographer, she started line dancing when her mum dragged her to a line dance event, she was instantly hooked and hasn't looked back. Like many of us Heather started teaching when the instructor of the class she was attending couldn't continue, being able to read a script and pick up dances quickly along with a huge passion for line dance Heather took on the class and has been teaching ever since. 25 years later Heather has a huge following and is extremely proud of her club 'The Bootleggers', some of the members of which have been with her since the very first class. Heather currently teaches 4 classes a week, ranging from Absolute Beginner to Intermediate dancers. She started choreographing 11 years ago and, deservedly so, is very proud of the dances she has written, she has also had the opportunity to co-choreograph with other very talented dancers. Although she loves all her dances, she says for her the biggest thrill is seeing one of her dances fill the floor. Heather has been nomintated at the Crystal Boot Awards an incredible 17 times and has won awards for her dance Rolling with Love (co-choreographed with Simon Ward) and as part of the Linedancer Radio team, which won the people's choice award this year. If you would like to check out Heather's choreography you can do so on her ELD profile or her website.
Alongside teaching and hosting two radio shows a week, Monday’s Mixup and a Blether with Heather, Heather also runs 3 weekend breaks a year, monthly socials, 2 festivals (one of which has been running for 21 years!) 3 workshops and has travelled all over the world to teach as part of Kingshill Holidays. For Heather, the two stand out highlights of her career so far, are teaching at World Dance Masters and dancing with Country Vine in their show and teaching at the Crystal Boot Awards with Niels Poulson.
Despite her huge line dance success, Heather doesn’t class this as her main job! She is also a hairdresser, she owns and runs her own salon with the support of three wonderful staff, Louise, Sarah and Lainy. Heather says these three ladies are FAB, they allow her to travel for dancing and keep the salon running. Heather has been married to her husband Steve, without whom she says none of this would be possible, for 15 years and between them they have 4 children and 4 grandchildren.
Unfortunately when classes closed, Heather found herself in the same position as many of us, with only limited experience of using and uploading videos. Live online teaching never occurred to her, as I’m sure it hadn’t to a large number of other teachers too. However, Heather did already have her own YouTube channel, this made deciding on her first steps to migrating her classes online an easy one, she uploaded demo and teach videos to this, ensuring her dancers were able to continue dancing from home. Heather then set a new Facebook group, Dance with HeatherB and posted the newly uploaded YouTube videos to this. Initially this group was only for her dancers, but after mentioning it on her radio show, it now has over 480 members! Not only are there demo and teach videos on there, but Heather has cleverly recorded social videos, she walks through one wall and then dances the dance, it is just like attending a social evening from the comfort on your own home! Heather now uploads teach videos to her group every 2nd day and has also been teaching on the virtual groups StreamLine, Social dis-dancing and DDW3.
Using the Line dance Support Group guides and a post from Crazy Hazy, Heather now uses Facebook all the time, going live 3 times a week for her classes and teaching on the virtual groups. This was a completely new skill set for her, but through using the ELD tutorials and reading the comments on the posts Heather was confident enough to go live, and being live, she really wanted to get it right the first time! Having successfully mastered this, Heather is now suffering the same issue as many of us are, being muted on Facebook part way through your live teach. At the moment there is not an easy solution to this, however, Billy is working on a solution and if you comment on his post in the line dance support group you can help provide him with the test data needed to tackle this problem.
Heather’s top tips for online classes are to make sure that you teach as if you are in class with your dancers, keep it simple and fun, ensuring there is a clear picture of your feet even in a small space but most importantly make sure that YOU as an instructor are enjoying it as much as your dancers are. Initially it was a bit difficult to get her camera in the perfect position and Heather ended up using anything she could get her hands on to help angle it properly…. using candles and even bananas…..!! Eventually her husband had enough of her moaning (Heather’s own words there!!) and purchased her a tripod, which has made setting up to record or go live much easier. Heather says that the instructions on the ELD tutorials were clear and very helpful and she will continue to refer to the group, or to anyone who can help, for any future problems and issues we have to overcome.
When classes are allowed to start again and normality resumes it is unlikely that Heather will continue with live online teaches, as hopefully her dancers will be attending her classes in person and she already has a very busy schedule. She will continue updating her YouTube channel in the same way she has been for the last few years and has yet to decide what direction the Dance with HeatherB group will take. Heather’s online classes are all FREE, as is her Facebook group, Heather feels that if she can help her dancers at this difficult time, then she is happy.
“Seeing the world of dance come together has been amazing, we have had so many things to keep everyone going from help groups, artists singing, Djs playing, dancers dancing, games, chat shows, quizzes & baking, this is only a few things but I personally think it has been fantastic. Well done to everyone that has taken part or created something to help everyone get through this crazy world we now live in. DANCE IS NOT ONLY WHAT WE DO, IT’S WHO WE ARE”