Dancing behind the camera

The ban of large gatherings of people in Kansas made dance studios discontinue in-person dance classes, but some dance studios have carried on their classes through online learning.


Photo from Sarah McGuyer

Senior Sarah McGuyer dances in her house while on a Zoom call.

Natalie Policky, Writer

The pitter-patter of dance steps and pirouette twirls can be heard from senior Bella Steketee’s living room, as she and many others are continuing to do instructional dance classes over Zoom.

Starstruck Performing Arts Center (SPAC) received the news three days into spring break that they would not be able to continue in-person dance classes due to the recent ban in Kansas of large gatherings. Arousing disappointment among the dancers, they did not realize that their last day in the studio before spring break would be their last day doing in-person classes for a long period of time, SPAC dance teacher Erin Lustig said.

“All of a sudden, everyone’s like, ‘I need to dance, I need to dance’ and so your perception definitely changes once you can’t have something,” Lustig said. “Once we’re able to get that back, it just seems like a gift instead of an obligation.”

In spite of the order, Lustig said, the studio knew they needed to continue offering classes anyway they could.

“I think [dance is] an important part of their lives [and] for it to just disappear and have nothing, I just didn’t think that that was a good choice for anybody’s mental well being and physical well being, so we decided that it was better than doing nothing,” Lustig said. 

SPAC was not the only dance studio in Kansas forced to discontinue in-person classes for a while. Above the Barre Dance Academy (ATB) was also affected by this ban and have likewise started using Zoom to continue their classes, senior Sarah McGuyer said, a dancer at ATB. Nevertheless, McGuyer said she wishes she could meet in smaller groups back at the dance studio.

“I think it’s just really challenging to feel connected with everyone, especially during our rehearsals,” McGuyer said.

During these online dance classes, dancers continue to learn combos and complete demonstrations among their peers, in addition to stretching and increasing flexibility, Steketee said. However, these Zoom classes can be a challenge due to the limited amounts of space some of the dancers have in their house, Steketee and said.

“Trying to dance in my house is a lot different than dancing in the studio or having that much space,” Steketee said. “So that’s kind of interesting, having to be flexible with spaces to do things and how to work with what I have at home.”

McGuyer said that one of the largest challenges she has faced with doing online dance classes has been a lack of wide-open space as well.

“I do not have much space,” McGuyer said. “I’m lucky enough to have a little room in my basement that we made for dancing when I was younger, but it’s not a studio size.”

Being a senior and having limited time left in the studio, Steketee said although the current situation isn’t ideal, at least Zoom offers her the ability to still see her friends.

“It’s definitely not as fun as being in the studio with my friends,” Steketee said. “But it’s been nice to have a little bit of normalcy and to get to still be able to dance in my house and see my teachers and see all my friends through Zoom.”

Steketee hopes to go back to her dance studio with stronger relationships with her fellow dancers and increase her love of dance after the quarantine, Steketee said. In addition, McGuyer hopes to not lose any skills or technique that she has garnered through the year, McGuyer said.

In the meantime, though, Lustig said that she hopes these dancers begin to not take the little things for granted, even if unrelated to dancing.

“This is a very historical event, and I hope that kids will remember this,” Lustig said. “Remember to not take your everyday things for granted and to be appreciative of just being able to go and see your friends and to have a good time and to go shopping or just to be able to go in person and do those things.”