Training in dance can be hard enough, but a pandemic adds another challenge.
Factory Street Dance Studio, 37 Ohio Ave., limited class sizes when it started the fall session in September. Caroline Ciferno, artistic director of the studio, said there were no more than nine students in a class. Factory Street also set up a Zoom call so students could join from home.
“We require everyone to wear masks as long as they’re on the grounds of Factory Street, whether it’s inside or outside,” Ciferno said. “We have all these in-depth cleaning procedures that we do in between classes but also on days off. And we also have this fun little setup on the floor where we have taped off circles. So students will file in the studio and go directly to a circle, and we measured the circles to be 6 feet in diameter and then 4 feet apart.”
Ciferno said there was only one class with younger kids who could’ve struggled to follow the rules, but it was held outside when the season began. Now, in the second session of classes, the youngest age is about 7 years old. The children follow the rules and are excited to be dance, Ciferno said.
“These times, of course, are just insane for everyone,” Ciferno said. “But it makes it worth it to come to work every day and climb through all of the emails and everything.”
Ciferno said, in the past, the studio has also hosted dance classes for adults and outreach projects, but it has been focusing on the students right now.
“So right now, we’re kind of just taking everything week by week, more or less,” Ciferno said. “Just seeing what’s safe and how things progress or not. Ideally, we have a spring concert, but I don’t know yet.”
Dance also looks different for Ohio University students pursuing a degree in dance. Sierra Belmares, a freshman studying dance, said she is on campus for her dance classes.
“I have a 5x7 rug in my dorm room, and that is what I’m using as a dance floor,” Belmares said. “I take modern and ballet, so it’s challenging to do it in a dorm room, I guess. But I feel like when I log on online and I see the other girls all making it work, too, it just kind of motivates me.”
However, Belmares said it was harder for her to motivate herself to dance when she was at home before moving into her dorm for Phase 2.
“Just not knowing anything and being like, ‘Gosh, how long is this going to last?’ of, like, not even being on campus ... it was much harder; I didn’t even feel like I was back in dance,” she said. “It helps me just to know that I’m here, and I can look across the street and see the hall I’m supposed to be in.”
Belmares’ dance classes are split up into a hybrid format. She's trying to make the best of it, she said.
However, other students are finding it more difficult to get motivated.
“It’s already hard because the transition from studio dance to college dance is already a big difference that you have to acclimate to,” Madison Cather, a freshman studying dance, said. “If you’re dancing in your dorm room, you literally roll out of bed and dance on the same floor. It's very hard to keep everything separate, like: I study here, I sleep here, I eat here and I dance here — but it's all in the same room.”
However, Cather said there are only 22 people in her dorm hall right now, so she is also able to use the communal lobby spaces to get a little more space. Cather’s dance classes are also in a hybrid format, but she said she has a small group she hangs out with.
“We just always get lunch and dinner together, so I have a good connection with the girls I dance with,” Cather said. “I’m in class with some of them, so it’s really nice to have that.”
Cather said sticking together as a group — not introducing new people — has presented some difficulties.
“Some of the other girls, we had to like tell them we weren’t comfortable being around them,” Cather said. “Everyone was super understanding, which was great.”
Cather recently danced in the Movement Concert held by The Movement Organization at OU. She said they were only allowed to take off their masks when they were performing.
“The original idea was to have it livestreamed, but we just figured it would be a lot easier to follow protocols if we pre-filmed,” she said.