Thinking outside the dance box

Local dance studio moves classes online because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The new format allows students to receive instruction while avoiding large crowds.

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Local News

March 25, 2020 - 10:41 AM

Chelsea Lea, owner of Miss Chelsea’s Dance Academy, has switched to online dance lessons because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Erick Mitchell / Iola Register

The spread of COVID-19 is not stopping the action at Miss Chelsea’s Dance Academy. 

From her studio, owner and instructor Chelsea Lea is conducting classes via her computer screen.

Lea reconfigured her class instruction just as local school teachers have done to accommodate Gov. Laura Kelly’s request that schools be closed. 

The new format also follows the CDC’s request for social distancing of 6 feet.

“I had never thought of a virtual platform,” Lea said. “Streaming would have been difficult with how many kids I have. The next thing was YouTube,  but it is very hard to keep your video confidential on YouTube, and I didn’t want to be offering free classes to the world. Because when we all do get back in the swing of things, I still want to be able to have my business.”

Lea’s current website allows her dancers to access the videos she creates through a certain page that is password protected. Lea admits she is trying to stay a day, if not days ahead, which will give dancers the chance to work at their own pace. 

Creating the videos takes time. Lea has on average seven to eight classes per day on Monday through Friday, but so far, everything is going according to plan. 

“Hopefully it works out!” Lea said. “I’ve already had a couple of my kiddos send me videos of them practicing, so that is very nice.”

While Lea’s dancers can share videos of their progress at home, it is not the same as getting one-on-one attention in the dance studio. Lea herself is still grasping on how to get the same growth from her dancers as she would in the classroom. 

“It is going to be challenging, because usually the best time for correction is right in the moment,” Lea said. “I’m usually very hands-on, so it is going to be very different. I’m on all social media, they have my email address, most of them have my phone number, so they can just text me saying ‘hey, this what I’m struggling with, what do you think?’ And then, I can give them the best feedback for the time being.”

Lea sees the advantage of keeping her dancers engaged at home during this hiatus from class.

“It helps keep them moving and focused. I have only heard great things from all the parents. I’m sure some of them might think it’s a little bit of a hassle, but at least it’s another option for some sort of P.E. class, or some other activity.”

Lea is currently wrapping up her online degree in business at Fort Hays State University, and is grateful graduation is still on track. Juggling her business and school obligations, one of Lea’s biggest concerns is her end-of-the-year recitals scheduled for early June. 

“Until a decision is made, my goal is still to have a recital,” Lea said. “We are crossing our fingers and praying!”

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