CrHS and local dance companies adjust to stay afloat in a pandemic

Adriana Jones, Staff Writer

Dance companies, businesses, and school dance companies country-wide have been significantly affected by the Coronavirus. Studios have had to limit in-person dancing, hold online classes, and some have had to close down.

Jeanne Mattis, owner of Design in Motion Dance Studio, has experienced the devastating effects of COVID-19. At the beginning of the pandemic, Mrs. Mattis said, “I had to completely redesign my class schedule condensing times to accommodate reasonable engagement on ZOOM.”
Said she also had to completely restructure her tuition platform, manage the loss of income to maintain her financial responsibilities, and apply for a PPP grant, which is a loan created to provide a direct incentive for small businesses so they can keep their workers on the payroll.

She had to figure out if and how she could do a recital show as well. The biggest challenge according to Mrs. Mattis is the “emotional uncertainty” she faced. Mrs. Mattis also stated, “COVID has forced me to basically do everything I have done on a daily basis in the past, everything I am familiar with, everything that is routine, is now gone!” As for who’s been most affected by all of this in her studio, Jeanne feels that not only she has been affected, but also the teachers, parents, and students. As a business owner, Mrs. Mattis has taken several measures to keep her studio and dance classes running safely. Wearing masks, taking temperature checks, and cleaning between classes are new procedures to keep her studio open.

Dance company director of Design in Motion Dance Studio, Ms. Melissa Nibali, said the dance company “lost many performances and adapted our recital to be virtual.” She also said that now they have to be mindful of spacing in choreography and they can, “no longer have dancers touch or partner while dancing.”

Ms. Nibali’s personal biggest challenge in managing her dance company during this pandemic is, “keeping everyone motivated, inspired, and happy, despite all of our challenges.” She said she doesn’t want COVID to cause any of her students to lose their love for dance.

Mrs. Sara Mitchell-Sherman, director of the Crofton High School Dance Company said she has also felt the hardships that COVID-19 has created. “Dance company looks completely different this year”, said Mrs. Sherman. Rehearsals for her company are virtual and “performances and other opportunities have either been canceled or put on hold until further notice.” She also said that this has caused lots of confusion and frustration with so much change.
Mrs. Sherman said that in managing her dance company with the Coronavirus, the biggest challenge is that her dancers aren’t able to connect socially and build relationships, “especially being in a new school, new company, new director, and our time together is only virtual.”

COVID-19 has greatly impacted all aspects of dance companies and businesses. Business owners, teachers, and students have had to find new ways to continue dance classes and adjust to a new normal.