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‘It’s gonna take a long time’: Local dance studios struggle to get back on their feet


With the new dance season starting this September, the question is, how many people will feel comfortable sending their kids back?

(WYTV) – The performing arts world is slowly and cautiously opening back up. It has been months of no dance rehearsals or competitions, and the losses are piling up and lasting well beyond the stay-at-home orders.

“I think it’s gonna take a long time. I have friends that actually had to close their studio. I know that if we go into another shutdown that’ll happen with us,” said Teri Nobbs, owner of the Columbiana Performing Arts Center.

Nobbs had just opened the center in Sept. 2019. When the shutdown happened, she had more than 108 students. By the time she reopened in June, the number of students dropped to just 28.

With the new dance season starting this September, the question is, how many people will feel comfortable sending their kids back?

“We’re just hoping to get 25% of our students back, I mean, we’re hoping to get just enough to keep us open,” Nobbs said.

Nobbs said she has received no government assistance, even after applying several times.

“We were unable to apply for the PPL loan because we have 1099’s and we applied for a small business loan but didn’t get any help with it,” she said.

The impacts go further than just local studios and recitals.

“It’s kind of impacted the entire arts industry. I know a lot of performers are out of work. Cruise ships are shut down, broadway is shut down. So there’s really not even anything for my seniors that wanna dance,” said Lindsay Stumpo, owner of the Escape Dance Academy.

National competitions were canceled, costing parents thousands of dollars they’d already paid, on top of lost tuition fees.

“When we have all of these competitions booked, some of them refund the money, some of them do not,” said Lisa John, a dance parent.

Competitions that have been rescheduled have strict social distancing guidelines with no spectators, social distancing while dancing and limited family allowed.

“We decided to just not to go until next season because it’s just not the same experience,” Stumpo said.

But the biggest impact may be on the kids.

“It’s their release. They come in here and they can forget about everything and they can dance and it’s their home,” Nobbs said.

For now, as some studios reopen, they’ve put precautions in place. Many lobbies are clear of visitors, there are Xs on the floors 6 feet apart and parents are the only audience allowed.

“I feel like we’ve kind of kept that family feel in here despite taking temp checks at the door and having all of these regulations and not having the parents in here. So it is different but hopefully being able to stay open and continue training,” Stumpo said.

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