The multi-talented actor, choreographer, dancer, director, producer and singer-songwriter Debbie Allen brought dance into people’s homes with a series of Zoom dance classes.
The classes, called “Debbie Allen Dance Academy Virtual Dance World,” began April 2.
Along with the Zoom classes, she has Instagram Live dance classes and asks those who participate in the Zoom classes to donate $3.
According to CNN, her first class was viewed more than 115,000 times.
Allen’s daughter, Vivian Nixon, has been helping her mother with the Zoom dance classes, and a video Nixon did that was targeted toward children was viewed more than 354,000 times.
On March 12, Allen’s Dance Academy studio closed because of concerns of COVID-19. Also on that day, production was suspended on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Allen is both an actor and an executive producer on the show.
The virtual Zoom dance classes have a series of events scheduled on Allen’s Instagram and Dance Academy events website.
Like many celebrities, Allen found a way to connect with her fans and people who are staying at home.
“A lot of people need it, and it was a healing, releasing and motivational experience for so many people,” Allen told CNN. “I was just grateful to share what I do and know that it could be essential.
“I know dance is not listed on the list of what’s essential right now, but you know, this kind of artistic spirit, it really is.”
Allen’s virtual dance sessions expand to other parts of the world too, including viewers from countries like Brazil and India.
Although some classes are aimed toward certain age groups, Allen tries to make her classes and dances accessible to everyone, regardless of age, dance levels, experience or physical skill.
Allen has received positive feedback from her dance classes, receiving posts from her fans and people on Instagram. She has also received videos from people of all ages dancing.
“Videos have been sent to me from little babies dancing,” Allen told CNN, “people who are serious dancers, people who just want to move, and, you know, guys who have bodies that look like they are the next Thor or Black Panther.”
Allen created these classes to connect with people who have been self-isolating in their homes for weeks, trying to create a community and a continued space for self-expression.
“We are all trying to heal, whether we have this virus right now or not,” Allen told CNN. “We are connected – every last one of us. Everyone knows somebody that has it. Everyone is in a community that is threatened by it. There’s not a place on this planet that is free of it.
“So this dance is an expression of joy and freedom and self-will. You are willing yourself to be powerful and you are willing yourself to breathe and be free and to face any change.”
Allen isn’t the only celebrity who has tried to connect with their fans in times of self-isolation and quarantine.
Celebrities like Chris Hemsworth, Lizzo and Coach Monica Aldama from Netflix’s “Cheer” have made health and wellness videos.
In addition, like many popular networks and television shows, although it’s not live, SNL has continued to put out content to its viewers, making the sketches in their homes and being creative using programs like Zoom to do sketches “together.”
Allen is well-known as being a dancer and choreographer and opened the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles in 2001. She also was a judge and choreographer on the hit dance series “So You Think You Can Dance” for many seasons.
She is also a successful actress, best known for role as Lydia Grant in the musical-drama television 1982-87 series “Frame.” Allen’s most recent role is on “Grey’s Anatomy,” playing Catherine Avery.