It’s a new 'normal' at Danscene

Brooklyn LeClair (right) works on her tap routine last week at Danscene with Angela Farkas. The room has eight colour-coded boxes for dancers. (Chris Abbott/Norfolk Tillsonburg News)

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There are new challenges, rules, and safety precautions, but dancers at Danscene agree ‘it feels good to be back.’

“The kids that are here told me they didn’t realize how much they missed dance,” said Angela Farkas, owner of Danscene in Tillsonburg. “They were excited. Dance is more than dance, it’s social too.”

“I just wanted to be here, and it was so ‘normal’ to come here,” said dancer Brooklyn LeClair, noting she had been in the studio every day except Friday before the pandemic. “And it (the 2020 competition season) was cancelled the week before comp. We didn’t even get to compete once.”

Training at Danscene began again with a few senior classes in the third week of August, and the full schedule starts the week of Sept. 8 for dancers five and older (and some four-year-olds).

“They have not given us an appropriate way to handle the two, three and four-year-olds, because that age group is very hands on,” said Farkas. “We thought of ways to do it, but how do you keep them six feet apart? They’re still trying to figure it out.”

One of the first things you notice at Danscene are colour-coded boxes taped to the floor, six in one room, eight in the other, and space between boxes.

“We had to find a way to keep everyone the proper distance apart. They are six feet apart in the centre of the boxes, and when I say ‘go to the blue line’ or if I tell everyone to go to the blue-purple corner, they are still six feet apart.”

There is also enough room for dance teachers to move around the boxes.

“Some studios have the boxes together so they get more boxes, but the rule was they have to separate them.”

Regulations allow masks to be removed if the dance room door is closed, although some studios will ask masks to be worn if dancers are stationary/sitting. Ballet barres can be used as long as they are sanitized after each class. Floors need to be washed after each group of kids with some exceptions.

“If it’s the same group of kids, I don’t have to wash the floors. And I don’t have to wash the floors after tap classes.”

It takes 15 minutes for the instructors to wash their dance class floor and let it dry.

“So every class had to add on 15 minutes.”

Class times are staggered between the two dance rooms at Danscene, starting weekdays at 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Each room has its own entrance/exit door and temperatures are taken when dancers enter the studio lobby (the rooms have their own thermometers), bags go on racks, hands are sanitized, and they go directly into their studio dance rooms.

When they leave, they do it one at a time. Hands are sanitized once again, masks are worn in the lobby, and door handles are sanitized before the next group comes in.

“Every week it changes, something else changes,” said Farkas, noting dance studios need to constantly stay up to date.

“They’re telling us now that we can travel down the floor, staying six feet apart, then rotate and go to the back of the line. That just came out, so that was good. It allows us to use the entire room instead of just staying in the box. It’s just being creative and trying to find out systems that work.”

The 2021 competition season is still an unknown at this point, but dancers are already working toward it.

“There are questions that have not answered yet, but they have come a long way,” said Farkas.

“Even if there is no competitive season … kids will still train. They can still entertain, they can still perform.”

For more information on Danscene, email Farkas at danscene@on.aibn.com or call the studio (519-842-4851) Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Class sizes are small and registration is first come, first serve.

“You just have to go with the flow, ride the wave,” Farkas smiled.

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