The joy of dance… Watts Dance Studio keeps the show going during Stay at Home

Published 2:47 pm Thursday, April 23, 2020

For 67 years, Watts Dance Studio has kept its doors open and brought the joy of dancing to the children of Elizabethton and Carter County but when COVID-19 shifted the world and shut the doors of many businesses, they had to find other ways to bring the joy of dance to their students.
Thanks to apps like Band, Zoom, and Remind, Watts Dance Studio has gone to the virtual world and shared videos of classes to continue teaching the students.
“We truly miss dancing with the students in person but wanted to be able to keep them moving and dancing from home. We began by offering them videos of their recital dances to practice at home because eventually, we will have our spring recital. The show must go on, right?” Chrisann Watts Tull noted.
They also began making class videos complete with warm-ups, new steps, and combinations for the students to work on from their homes. The hope, she says, for these videos is to encourage the students to keep moving and dancing.
Tull also noted that a benefit of this method is the students get exposure to all the teachers at the studio including their regular teacher as the videos allow all teachers to rotate dance styles.
This is a time in our country where so much has stopped, every effort to keep life going is important. Maintaining a sense of normalcy was key for the staff at Watts Dance Studio. 
“Dancers are used to coming to the studio at least once a week, while many students come up to three days per week,” Tull said. “If we could provide them a video class for each in-person class they usually take, it might help them maintain a sense of their ‘normal’ world during this time of upheaval all while improving their dance education.”
Many parents are working from home during this time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. The classes also became a way for the parents to entertain, in a productive manner, the students while perhaps they had work to accomplish as well. 
Parents have become the typical education teachers and this was an attempt to include the extracurricular dance activity.
In addition to dance videos and class videos, Watts is also offering family nights where the whole family can join the dance craze.
“Our first night, a hoedown themed dance party involves the whole family. We teach a line dance that the whole family can enjoy and allow parents a bonding activity to do with their children at home,” Tull added.
While everyone has adjusted to a shift home during this time, the use of technology has increased. The skills to use the software and apps were difficult at first.
“We had to learn a lot really quite quickly to be able to share the videos and so much, in the beginning, was trial and error,” said Tull. “We have it down to a groove now and hope the students are enjoying seeing us on the screen and still dancing, with bloopers and all!”
From the outpouring of photos shared on the studio’s Facebook and Instagram pages, it seems the students are enjoying their new outlet for dancing until they can return to actual studio classes.
The studio will remain closed until Governor Lee and the CDC encourage reopening.
Once reopening the studio is possible, Watts Dance Studio will take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the children without losing the instruction and fun they have provided the community for 67 years.
Tull added, “It will be so much fun for the students and for us to get back to dancing in the studio!”

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