The Show Must Go On

Dancing through a pandemic


Ella Schulte

On March 8th, dancers from Cincy Dance Studio were packed backstage at a dance competition surrounded by hundreds of people from all over the country. Music was blasting, people were cheering as they had the time of their lives. Little did they know their beloved dance studio was five days away from shutting down for months due to the Coronavirus. Lauren Andrews, owner of the studio, said, “I do think our industry will be impacted for the foreseeable future. And it’s up to us to ensure our dancers that they still have a safe environment for them to attend.”

Ever since I was 3-years-old, dance has been my world. There are a million reasons that led me to love it. The music, the glam, the exercise- the list goes on and on. But above all, one thing has always drawn me in more than any other: performing. There’s nothing like the rush of adrenaline that an empty stage brings. Standing there waiting for your music to play, bright spotlights radiating, knowing there is an audience full of people waiting to see you shine–it’s irresistible.

   The last time I was on stage was for a competition in Columbus. As per usual, the auditorium was packed with hundreds of people from all over the country, eager to cheer on their friends. It was a weekend full of good luck hugs backstage, high-fiving strangers at awards, and running around in chaotic dressing rooms so full of people there was barely enough space to walk. This was Saturday, March 8th- four days before the world stopped.

   When the pandemic hit, dance studios everywhere were entering the peak of their season. The news of the virus worried dancers and choreographers immediately. After all, how is an industry based solely on large gatherings and crowded auditoriums supposed to survive a pandemic? 

   Unfortunately, due to the physical contact and heavy breathing that are the foundation of dancing, showcases, and competitions that had been under preparation for months were canceled in seconds.     Located in Madeira, Ohio, Cincy Dance Studio was no exception. Lauren Andrews, owner of the studio explained that “Going from a busy competition weekend to literally being shut down 5 days later was very shocking. Our dancers and instructors work so hard perfecting these routines… and to have it all taken away was truly heartbreaking.”

   Luckily for the dancers of Cincy Dance Studio and many other studios around the world, instructors didn’t let physical boundaries stop them. Online instruction over Zoom and Instagram live began shortly after shutting down. Dancers began to realize that simply moving the kitchen table out of the way could transform dining rooms into dancefloors.

After two-and-a-half months of practicing in our homes wherever we could find space, we got the news we had been hoping for: our instructors had found a way to make the recital possible. It wasn’t the production it usually is, but masks and social distancing were a good plan B. “Having the ability to meet with our students and rehearse virtually really opened a lot of possibilities for us…Our dancers showed such commitment to their virtual learning and keeping up with conditioning made our transition back into the studio a breeze,” said Andrews.

   Not only did dance instruction continue at local studios but across the globe. World-renowned choreographers began to offer free online classes to lift everyone’s spirits and encourage the dance community to keep moving. It was inspiring to see that no matter how far apart everyone was, dance connected us all. 

   Truth be told, there is a chance our beloved studios will face another shutdown sometime in the future. But one thing is for certain: no dancer will take their studio or stage time for granted ever again. Andrews remarked, “ I feel confident knowing our staff and dancers can get through anything because we truly love to dance!”