Coronavirus poses challenges for local dance studio | News, Sports, Jobs

HUGHESVILLE — Almost 30 years ago, Kellie Shaner-Gordner and Duane Gordner gave dance lessons to a handful of children from the basement of their church.

Today, the couple have built up a student base of around 300 and opened two studios, but they worry about the detrimental consequences the COVID-19 pandemic could inflict on their business, D&K’s Studio of Dance.

Shaner-Gordner said the challenges facing their business are “unlike anything we’ve ever known.”

“It’s hard for me to remember all the difficult years when we had just started our business”, she said. Since, “We had a really wonderful race.”

And they plan to continue.

Running a dance studio was Gordner’s dream. He took a factory job after graduating from high school, but started taking dance lessons on the side and soon discovered that his real passion was practicing and teaching dance.

Shaner-Gordner went to high school with Gordner and later became his wife after deepening their relationship through their church community. She shares her husband’s passion for the studio and said that while they could be in a more financially stable position during this pandemic if she pursued another profession, she has no regrets for their joint venture.

“We’ve really enjoyed doing it together this whole time,” she says, “and I think it’s something unique because we understand each other. We can share all our joys.

Shaner-Gordner’s father built the couple’s first dance studio. It is attached to their home, a fitting symbol of the place the company holds in their hearts.

After the coronavirus outbreak forced the couple to shut down their studio, they started offering online classes using Zoom. But Shaner-Gordner said when she recently completed a youth dance class, she was sad.

“I felt sad because part of what these dancers expect of us at this age is for us to listen to their stories” and be stupid with them, she said. “Even though I could see their cute little faces…it was a very different format. So I felt sad afterwards.

Gordner said he missed feeling the energy in the dance studio.

“You tap into their energy” he said. “You feed off of that. So it’s hard not to feel that from them.

Libby Welliver, 15, has been going to D&K’s Studio of Dance since she was three. She said it was a “huge disappointment” that she can no longer go to the studio after school.

“It’s definitely like an outlet for me after school,” she said. “I definitely developed it as a safe place to always have.”

Libby’s mother, Amy Welliver, said Gordner and Shaner-Gordner were in tune with their students, noting that Shaner-Gordner contacted her daily after her father’s recent death, and that Gordner would check on Libby if she seemed off. during a lesson.

She saw how happy her daughter was to virtually interact with the couple during a recent online class.

“We knew we would miss them” she said. “I didn’t know how much.”

Gordner and Shaner-Gordner have continued to offer classes to their students during the statewide stay-at-home order, and they’re doing it for free.

“I don’t want to add more hardship to other families who might be in the same boat as Duane and me,” Shaner-Gordner said.

Gordner added that they felt “It’s something we’re supposed to do.”

The couple, who started their business in the basement of their church, said it is their Christian faith that carries them through these difficult times.

“We look forward to the day when we can open the doors and get back into the studio with the dancers,” Shaner-Gordner said.

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