Friday the 13th of March, 2020, Governor Noem announced school closures for South Dakota in response to a global COVID-19 pandemic. Continuously serving our dancing families was top priority! Within 48 hours the Academy of Dance Arts restructured to “open” Monday on a virtual platform, one of the first studios in the nation to continue classes without skipping a beat!
Student safety for our family has always been our goal, but as we began June phase-in measures, we found a deeper level of care provided by our A-Team. One-way traffic flow through our buildings, mask-wearing and physical distancing joined our best practice sanitization protocols. We adopted Safer Studios™ measures and led the way in our industry to arrive here, to this day, a new anniversary.
We are proud to announce that our team’s diligent efforts meant the Academy of Dance Arts successfully navigated a full 365 days with ZERO cases of illness transmission, including at our studios and performance venue, the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Theatre!
The silver lining to this anniversary is our fresh ability to continue uninterrupted service to dancers where they need it most: at home, in the studio or on the go.
For the next 365 days, as more families receive vaccinations, as the CDC shifts restrictions and as we listen closely to Academy family needs, we will be steadily and gradually moving more towards a return to a much-needed new normal…one step at a time! We are eager for the arrival of Summer and the fresh promise of our outdoor additions.
The phoenix to rise from these ashes is our shining 5-Star Safety Pledge for all dancers who join us! We pledge to all dancers that the following five items will be at top of mind from our Academy A-team to you:
• Injury Prevention Measures are built-in to our curriculum choices and lesson plans. Our faculty challenges dancers to work hard and have fun, focusing on best technique practices which prevent an injury before it happens. We promote a balance of strength, stability and flexibility so that we can grow healthy dancers one step at a time.
• Developmentally Appropriate Content is important to us because we recognize children get only one childhood in which to learn, explore and create! Families love our modest costume choices, our Grammie-rated language, and movement that is appropriate for little people who love the creative magic we can discover together.
• Sanitization Measures and Handwashing are tried-and-true practices for everyone, so we will continue to lead by example, like training little ones on how to properly wash busy hands.
• Physical Distancing, reminders (especially in the absence of mask-wearing) will continue to be encouraged within our studios and performance venues.
• Masks are just as important to prevent sharing of an illness as they are to protecting your dancing instrument. As long as the CDC is recommending their usage, we will too, especially as we begin to level-up our progressions and rigor in classrooms.
We are proud to have safely and gracefully led the way in new best practices for the past year. We are grateful for all of the members of this community who continued to dance and grow in a re-imagined way. Your letters of support and encouragement have meant the world to us. They shared the many ways we were considered essential contributors to the health and well-being of strong and active young dancers and families through a pandemic.
May the next 365 days shine with hope and a-bun-dance for all!
~ Ms. Julie A. McFarland
Academy of Dance Arts CEO & Director