THE SHOW MUST GO ON: Dancer’s Dreams Performing Arts Academy
Business was booming for Dancer’s Dreams Performing Arts Academy in March of this year… and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“In March I had two amazing classrooms in wonderful city building locations,” described Amy Simmons, owner. “A classroom in the Elizabethton Parks and Rec and also at the Memorial Park Community Center in Johnson City. My student roll was the highest it has been since I began teaching in Tennessee.”
When the pandemic struck, Simmons recalled having to reassess everything.
“We who are self-employed then had to analyze and assess the entire situation, and it was one where we had no definite foresight of the future economic situation,” she said. “I knew in my heart the students and parents, as well as myself, were at a very confusing time, and when chaos ensues, having stability and consistency for my Academy was important to me.”
Realizing the show must go on, Simmons and her husband set up a complete dance studio on their front porch. She also set up a private page on Facebook and videoed weekly classes. According to Simmons, the goal was to advance forward to the dance academy’s spring recital, so she kept their choreography for the show moving forward.
As the world began to reopen after lockdown, both facilities Simmons had used for classes remained closed, so she began the search for a new location.
“A new decision had to be made in May to try and find a safe, suitable location that was open to offer class to those who deemed it safe to return. A large gym with open air was the answer,” she said.
According to Simmons, the small business community came to the rescue. Overmountain Fitness owned by Victoria Peay at 1742 West Elk Avenue, Elizabethton, allowed her to rent for a short period.
“The CrossFit gym with huge bay doors for fresh air and sunshine and a large space, was the perfect bridge for the next six weeks,” she described.
Simmons ultimately lost 45 percent of her students during the pandemic due to restrictions, venue closures, location change and fear. Remaining students from both studio locations who did return ultimately met at the new facility.
“They had missed their dance classes, their goals with choreography, and most of all they had missed the friendships and interaction with their classmates,” she said. “Parents were extremely happy to be returning to more normalizing schedules and allowing their children to exercise, and be happy doing what they love.”
Once resuming in-person, guidelines were put in place as safety measures. These are still currently in place. They include the following:
Each student is checked in at the information desk where they use hand sanitizer before and after classes.
There are bright, cheery “dance dots” for all students to dance on for easy social distancing.
Individual dance props for students to use are provided. These are sanitized before and after use.
Choreography has no partnering and our tumbling programs on hold.
Parents wait outside or in a spaced-out area during classes.
If a student is sick, just as any regular year, they are asked not to attend until they are well (no fever, etc.)
The show was finally held on Saturday, July 12, at the Elizabethton Parks and Rec Gymnasium, and was streamed on Facebook. Social distancing and limited numbers of people were included. With Mardi Gras as the theme, big, colorful masks were all the rage.
“We pride ourselves on our themed shows, and have gorgeous decorations yearly,” said Simmons. “Although not in our normal venue, it was one of the most colorful stage décor in many years.”
Dancer’s Dreams Performing Arts Academy offers Pre-School Dance, Ballet, Creative Movement, Clogging, Bollywood, and Praise Dance. They have been in business and a presence in the community for 30 years and will continue to do so.
“Through movement, exercise, and dance I hope to provide a needed service to our community through the many types of dance I offer to all ages,” said Simmons. “Dance improves heart and lungs, increases strength, endurance and motor fitness, weight management, spatial awareness, mental functioning, general psychological well being, self-confidence and self-esteem.”
Registration for fall classes will be Sept. 1 from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Elizabethton Parks and Rec Gym. Classes will begin Tuesday, Sept. 8, in the EPR gymnasium.
For more information, call/text 540-392-9138, email, Ddreams2000@aol.com or check out their Facebook page.
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