Dancing through the pandemic in Central Oregon
Sarah Lightley/ The Broadside
In March of 2020, COVID-19 changed everything for dance studios. The Vibe Dance Center and Gotta Dance Studio and Company have closed their doors to the public and have had to go virtual.
Amy Huebner, one of the owners and teachers at The Vibe Dance Center, commented. “We are currently teaching all classes virtually because Deschutes County is at Extreme Risk. Once we move to the High-Risk Category, we can have dancers come back to the studio.”
Dancing in your bedroom or living room might sound like lots of fun, but it cannot be easy for dancers.
Skyler Abbas, a senior at The Vibe Dance Center, said this about her experience dancing at home and learning through a computer, “Taking classes through Zoom has been quite difficult. The hardest part has been trying to do as much as we can in so little space on less than ideal flooring.”
“It’s personally been a big mental challenge when learning combos since we are no longer standing behind the teacher while still getting to see what they are doing through the mirror,” said Abbas.
We all have had some experience with Zoom, and it can be challenging to manage a big group of people in a Zoom meeting.
Ashley Gaona, a dance teacher at Gotta Dance Studio and Company, describes what it is like to teach through Zoom.
“From my experience teaching throughout the 2020 year on Zoom, students either want to dance regardless of the format, want to participate in some form of exercise, class or competition team, and will be there no matter what, or are over the online format. They are tired of the selective space options, not seeing their friends, wifi connection issues, too much online activity, etc.…”
There are some negatives to dancing at home and not in the studio.
“I’m starting to lose technique doing certain moves because I’m not able to practice them at home,” said Abbas. “I’ve also accidentally injured myself more from dancing at home than I ever have at the studio.”
The Vibe Dance Center and Gotta Dance Studio and Company feel frustrated that dance studios are considered fitness centers/gyms in Oregon.
“We are able to control our class sizes, how much exercise they get, and our facility is constantly being sanitized, which I can say, is cleaner than the grocery stores,” said Huebner.
Gaona said, “We have limited class sizes, and only those students who are enrolled in that class can attend. We operate at 25% capacity, students wear masks, stay 6 feet apart, and follow full Covid-19 protocols. We are a safe environment for kids and adults. We should not be shut down! However, dance is my life’s passion, and I’ll do anything and everything I can to keep students dancing by following the set Oregon COVID-19 rules. I have faith we will open soon and start on a forward path getting back to our dance lives.”
However, COVID-19 did not only bring negatives to dancer’s lives.
Abbas said, “I think that I have grown as a dancer through dancing at home because I’m consistently determined to take my classes. This is something that I love to do, so why not keep doing it while I’m at home and even improve in ways I didn’t realize I would.”
Dancers dance somewhere between 4-12 hours a week, depending on their level of technique. The studio is their second home; dancers eat, sleep, and do homework at the studio. The other students and teachers are their family, and COVID-19 has disrupted the studio dynamic for many dancers.
“I would have to say that I miss my dance family. Unfortunately, I don’t go to school or live by anyone I dance with, so the only time I get to see them is through my computer screen, which definitely isn’t the same as seeing them in person. I also miss the teachers like crazy. I wish I appreciated my small amount of time with them a couple of months ago, even more than I already did. I’m just hoping that I can have the opportunity to see everyone in person again before I graduate and go to college,” said Abbas.
If interested in taking classes at The Vibe Dance Center and Gotta Dance Studio and Company, click on the links below: