INCONSISTENCIES: Sharon Saunders is one of many dance school operators calling for clarification on when they can reopen. Picture: DARREN HOWE
Dance schools and studios in central Victoria have helped form the Dance Arts Alliance as they call for clarification from the state government about when they can reopen.
More than 220 business have joined the alliance after they were classified as gyms or indoor fitness centres. It means they cannot open until November when Victoria takes the last step in its recovery.
Dance Arts Alliance chair Mike Harrison-Lamond said the inconsistency and lack of clarification meant the dance industry had been completely left behind.
"The (state) government don't have a plan for us to reopen," Mr Harrison-Lamond said. "They were fine with us open in June, when kids (were deemed) lower risk. Initially we we able to have unlimited kids in studios
"Now, for some bizarre reason, we are grouped with gyms. Dance schools have good contact tracing and have always gone above and beyond in terms of safety.
"Regional studios will provide a litmus test for metropolitan areas and we need support now.
"It should have been a day of celebration yesterday but we have empty studios in towns with no cases. There is such a critical need for government to review this right now."
Sharon Elfert who runs CV Dance Studio said she has spent $8000 of her own savings to keep her business afloat during the pandemic.
"I hope I don't close, I would be devastated but there's always that chance," she said. "I'm still paying rent on the studio. If it wasn't JobKeeper I would have closed down and lost my house and car.
"The government is doing good thing. This is unprecedented but it is such a silly thing that kids can play footy and go to school but they can't do dance classes. The lack of confidence in kids I have seen is clear. (Their confidence is gone without that social interaction. I really feel for kids mental well-being."
Sharon Saunders has been running her business, Sharon Saunders Dancers, for 29 years. Normally she has 120 students - mostly primary school aged - enrolled at her dance studio.
"We can't open until November when we would normally close for the year," she said. "I just can't see the common sense in it. Kids can play in playgrounds that are not sanitised but we can't have 10 dancers in a fully-santised studio.
"We are COVID safe-trained and have a plan implemented, we're ready. We just want to know where we sit and get the doors open."
The Department of Health and Human Services in regional Victoria dancing outside with up to 10 people is permitted under the Third Step. Participants must keep at least 1.5 metres distance between each other.
Dance studios can also run classes outside with groups of up to 10 people plus the instructor.
"Indoor physical recreation facilities, including gymnastics and dance studios are currently closed under Victorian restrictions as the nature of exercising in an indoor space carriers a high risk of transmission, due to sweat and heaving breathing, as well as shared equipment," a DHHS spokesperson said.
"We understand everyone is making huge sacrifices and the closure of gyms and dance studios has been difficult, but this strategy is working and we are driving cases down.
"Under both the regional Victoria and the metropolitan Melbourne roadmaps, indoor physical recreation facilities are scheduled to reopen in the Last Step.
"The Last Step is expected to start from November 23 subject to having no new cases and public health advice."
ANNOUNCING THE AUSMUMPRENEUR OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS!
Tonight READY SET DANCE won 4 major awards in this prestigious competition, celebrating mums in business.
1. Best Customer Service Award
2. Best Product Award
3. Business Excellence Award
And the big one ....
4. AusMumpreneur of the Year Award!
Thank you to all who voted for us and for the support of our STUDIO OWNERS & TEACHERS who deliver our program every day to preschoolers across Australia and New Zealand!
A huge thank you to our musical wizard Sean!
Enormous gratitude to Des, who helped us take our business to the next level!
To Ben, Hugh and Jaq, who believed in 5 mumpreneurs and helped us turn our class program into a TV Show that shares the magic of dance with girls and boys every day on Nick Jr., 10 Peach and soon 10 Shake!
Thank you to Katy and Peace for giving mums a wonderful platform to celebrate their business wins and success. To all the finalists and award winners tonight, congratulations! You are all so inspiring!
To our amazing families; thank you for all you do and for your unconditional love and support.
To our children; you are our WHY, and our inspiration to start this business.
Bel, Jade, Nat, Glenda, Cil x
Collaboration is the new competition
January saw us preparing for an action packed year as a Team. Firstly, I flew to Sydney for the day to escort 5 of our preschoolers who were chosen to dance on TV screens throughout the world on Nick Jnr! Then I headed to Melbourne for READY SET DANCE training with Jo. The day is always a highlight and we are so lucky to be a valued member of the RSD community who are so supportive and motivated to deliver the best classes possible for the next generation of dancers! Jo attended RAD Conference, Shaping Bodies, Shaping minds which looked deeper into teaching ballet and individual needs of students. Then I headed back to Melbourne for ATOD Training which is always a wonderful day learning from examiners and teachers. Our teachers then met for Team training as we do each term to ensure we are all delivering the best experience we can and creating memories for families but most of all having a positive impact on student’s lives.
Term 1 started with lots of joy and excitement and lovely weather. It was wonderful to see so many returning students and new families who settled in beautifully. My teachers did a fantastic job and all students gained new skills and confidence. We launched our 2020 concert theme - Step Back in Time and had fun dressing up as always.
How quickly life can change! Now is the time for us all to spend time with families and slow down for a while. Life gets too busy and I am sure we are all going to come out the other end with a whole new perspective and appreciation for the things we currently take for granted. Simple things, like seeing your dance friends each week are so important.
As per government guidelines our studio has closed until further notice. During that time we will continue to connect with our SSD community through our RSD Parents Facebook group and our Band app (for school aged classes). Please make sure you are in those groups as we are sharing many free resources to students which include dance classes to keep them active. None of us know when we will be able to resume business and we may need to adjust our plans along the way but know that as always we will work behind the scenes to prepare and we will keep you informed. We can’t wait to hear the sounds of families back in the dance studio!
As many of you are aware, I was diagnosed with Breast cancer recently and am recovering from surgery. I will commence treatment soon. I guess I am lucky the break will give me more time to focus on my recovery and heal. Thankyou all for your love and prayers, they mean the world to me and my family. Please take care of yourselves and keep me smiling by sharing your photos and videos on our Facebook page or in our App.
Sharon Saunders Dancers were finalists in the READY SET DANCE Awards at their Conference in Sydney on the weekend.
They were thrilled to be finalists in 3 Awards chosen from over 200 Dance Studios throughout Australia & New Zealand.
READY SET DANCE Regional Studio of the year
READY SET BALLET Studio of the year
READY SET BALLET Teacher of the year (Hannah McBain)
They didn’t win any of their categories but Principal, Sharon Saunders was announced the recipient of the Gold Twirl Award which was a people’s choice award chosen by her colleagues. READY SET DANCE is a pre school dance program. Their aim is to get preschoolers moving and focuses on the 3 C’s- Coordination, Creativity & Confidence.
Photo: Sharon Saunders with ‘Freeze’ & ‘Twirl’ from Nick Jnr. TV show READY SET DANCE.
Feed coming soon