Oregon dance studio cited for holiday show joins lawsuit against Department of Health | Archive


OREGON (WKOW) – Online court records show that A Leap Above Dance in Oregon has joined a lawsuit against Madison & Dane County Public Health, challenging the county’s indoor gathering limits ordinance.

It comes after a 119-count complaint was filed against the dance studio.

On the A Leap Above Dance Facebook page, there are pictures of children from the “The Nutcracker” production. The event happened on December 13.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 20 by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, challenges the order of interior gatherings of the health department.

This lawsuit is substantially similar to an initial action that WILL filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in November 2020. The court voted not to grant WILL’s initial action, 4-3, without considering the merits of the case, but four judges said the claims were substantial. deserved.

According to WILL, sporting restrictions, in particular, illustrate why a single unelected civil servant should not be allowed to rule by executive order indefinitely. Sport is vital to the physical, mental, emotional and social health of Dane County youth, and recent research from UW-Madison indicates that sport does not significantly spread COVID.

Authorities said the dance studio had been informed that the planned performance violated the assembly limit.

“We had no idea the performance was going to take place,” Madison City assistant prosecutor Marci Paulsen said in an interview with 27 News last week. “We assumed our message would be followed.”

Paulsen says complaints about the studio’s operation prompted the notification. Paulsen says planning issues and the lack of complaints about not wearing masks were part of Madison Dane County public health staff’s decision to choose not to conduct an on-site visit before the scheduled performance .

“I can tell you that at that time … there was no exception for ten people, no gathering of individuals was allowed,” said Paulsen. “We issued this order just before Thanksgiving because of the huge spike in numbers (COVID-19 positives) we saw. We didn’t want any gatherings of individuals.”

A Leap Above owner Natalie Nemeckay explains that The Nutcracker was shot as a production, in segments, with small groups. Families were able to watch the show online as it unfolded.

“We had it on Facebook Live, we made no secret that we were doing it because we felt we could do it,” Nemeckay said.

Nemeckay told 27 News that his studio is classified by the IRS as a school of fine arts. She says the county has not clarified what restrictions A Leap Above should drop.

“I thought we were more of a youth program or an unregulated youth program,” Nemeckay continued. “I know other dance studios in the area have reached out and tried to find out where they rank, and they were a little confused about that.”

Paulsen tells 27 News that dancing has always been considered a sport under public health orders.

“I am aware that in the past dance studios have tried to argue that they are not sports, that they should not be under the definition of sport,” said Paulsen. “But public health in all of these communications has always indicated that this is a sport.”

“Just like hockey and basketball,” Paulsen said of including dance studios in the category.

If dance studios weren’t considered sports at the time of the event, there are other categories used by Public Health that would have allowed for a small gathering.

Since the controversial event, the public health order has been relaxed to allow sports activities to include up to ten participants provided they are socially distant and face coverings are used.

If found responsible on all counts in the civil complaint, the dance studio could face thousands of dollars in fines.

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