The owner of an Abbotsford dance studio is happy that restrictions were lifted on Thursday (January 20) on adult classes, but says the damage has already been done.
Maureen Keyes of Xtreme Talent Dance Company said the latest round of restrictions were further impacting an industry that had already been hit hard by the pandemic.
The latest round of restrictions were put in place on December 22, closing bars, nightclubs and fitness centers
Dance studios were also affected, but Keyes said what people didn’t know was that only classes for adults – 22 and over – were closed; children’s lessons were allowed to continue because they fell under the category of “recreational activity for young people”.
But Keyes said that due to a “lack of clarity” from the government, many people who might have wanted to start their children in dance assumed the studios were completely closed.
She said it affected their registration numbers at the start of the new year. While the studio would normally have around 350 students at this time of year, they are now at around 225.
“People who were hoping to enroll their child in the dance thought we were closed,” Keyes said.
The studio also had to temporarily suspend its eight weekly adult dance classes.
Orders were lifted on Thursday for all but nightclubs and bars, but Keyes said she and her fellow dance studio owners never received an explanation as to why children’s classes could continue, while those for adults were discontinued.
“It doesn’t make any sense at all… My biggest frustration, I would say, would be not having clarity (from the government) and not being upfront,” she said.
Keyes had previously expressed dismay at provincial health orders in November 2020. At that time, “indoor sports and physical activities” – including dance classes, spin cases, yoga, boxing, martial arts and hockey – were suspended, but other activities, such as gymnastics and cheerleading, were allowed to continue.
This order was lifted in stages from May to July 2021 as part of the province’s restart plan.
Keyes said the mental health of many of his students took a hit during this time, as they could only take lessons via Zoom and their dance competitions were filmed without an audience and then submitted for judging.
“It’s not the same. They’ve stripped everything from them. Normally they sign up, we dance with all our hearts and then we can compete,” she said.
With the rise in cases due to the Omicron variant, uncertainty remains, but Keyes hopes the worst is over and people continue to recognize the dance as part of the community.