Miss Chelsea’s students keep dancing

Dance students adjust to changes required by coronavirus pandemic. The biggest change is cleaning between classes and fewer opportunities to "partner up."

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October 30, 2020 - 2:56 PM

Chelsea Lea’s dance students dress up for Halloween during a recent practice. Photo by Tabitha Graham / Iola Register

The COVID-19 pandemic caught Chelsea Lea and her dancers by surprise.

The studio, Miss Chelsea’s Dance Academy, shut down for a short period of time at the beginning of the pandemic.

But now, classes are back both at the studio and remotely. 

Dance is a contact sport. 

It relies on people getting together and enjoying performances: recitals, competitions, routines, lessons, plays, etc. Lea was, and still is, unsure of when gathering together can be safe again. 

Students have the option to learn remotely if they do not feel comfortable dancing in the studio. 

Lea says that, for the most part, everything has stayed the same, but masks are worn and a lot more hand sanitizer is passed around. 

The biggest change has been cleaning the dance studio between classes.

“I used to mop the studio once a week. Now I mop it six times a day,” she said.

The class size went from being around 25 to 30 students to a maximum of 15. Students dance independently and do not “partner up,” except for productions, but the students will stay with the same partner throughout the entire production. 

Most students are very understanding of the changes, Lea said. Though some of the older dancers have more grievances in regards to the new rules due to the more physically demanding routines they perform. Mask wearing is not heavily enforced, but it is recommended. If dancers feel they need to take a break from their masks, they are able to step outside and get some fresh air. 

Three dancers at the academy are currently doing online lessons. Routines are recorded and sent to them; most dancers want to be in the studio. 

“This is our own little community,” she said.

Miss Chelsea’s Academy still plans on attending competitions beginning next year. The first is scheduled for late January. Studios will perform all their routines in scheduled blocks of time, as opposed to according to genre. The floors will be sanitized in between groups. Lea says the kids are excited to be able to go. 

To help fund these events, parents of the dancers have formed a non-profit LLC for the academy. Miss Chelsea says she was also able to use funds that she had saved up to support the studio during the initial stages of Covid-19. 

Lea is now preparing for the Dec. 2 production of “The Nutcracker.” As it appears, only family members will be able to see the show, though Lea is hopeful it could be open to the public.

“COVID had taught us that everything is up in the air,” she said.

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