Baton Rouge dance studio offers kids a chance to perform despite never-ending cancellations

Dance studio for kids adjusts to pandemic with socially distant classes, performances

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - For several months, Myra Mansur and her 6-year-old granddaughter were not able to do what they love.

The stay-at-home order shuttered the studio they danced in and left both separated out of an abundance of caution.

“It was hard for us because we couldn’t see our grand kids for a while, so not only could we not dance, but not seeing her at all,” Mansur said. “I knew that her and her brother were struggling with activities and couldn’t come up with creative ways to stay active during the stay-at-home order.”

Jerisse Bolton Grantham, the owner and one of the instructors at Jeffie Jean Studio, did not offer virtual dance classes. For her, the human connection was too important and could not be replicated.

“Dance is a connection,” Grantham said. “Dance is looking at your student. Dance is a physical, it’s a physical exercise, a physical expression, so doing it on a Zoom class is not the same.”

Grantham did decide to open back up as soon as the stay-at-home order was lifted though.

“Here, we social distance,” she said. “I have the area, we have a big studio, so all the chairs are 6 to 8 feet apart. They come to their station, they come to the door, put all their stuff at the chair, danced, and did not move.”

While it was safe, more importantly, it allowed students and families to reconnect and break isolation.

“She has a brother, but there’s only so much she can do with a brother that’s three years older. She needs the opportunity, an outlet to be around other girls that are her age,” Mansur said.

More than just getting the opportunity to dance with friends though, Grantham gave students like Evie the chance to perform in front of a socially distanced crowd.

“Six, space, six, space, skipped a row, then did like windows and did six, space, six, space. All were spread out, wore a mask, everyone could wear a mask up to the stage. The only thing we didn’t do was perform in mask,” she said.

That not only put a smile on the face of her students like Evie, but perhaps left a bright memory for her during a year wrecked by COVID-19.

“It’s really fun,” Evie said.

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