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Even dance studios have to skip a beat from coronavirus

Local dance studios are feeling the strain as public buildings across the North Shore continue to announce indefinite closures due to the coronavirus — COVID-19 — pandemic. 

Once the bulk of area schools announced Friday that they’d be shuttering operations until at least March 27, several studios were soon forced to follow suit. 

With nearly all of their students down for the count, studio owners have only been able to take the future of their businesses one day at a time.

“I’m closing this week, and I’m just going to evaluate each week as it goes,” said Donna Estes, owner of Donna’s Dance Studio in Lynn. “We’ll check in next Friday to see what we’re going to do, but I know the schools are out for two weeks and they’re telling (families) to plan for four.”

In her 47 years teaching dance, Estes said she’s never endured anything quite like this, and added she’s been so focused on the situation at hand that her studio’s May 17 recital date is far from her mind. 

“I’m not even thinking about the show,” she said. “This is scary … I’ll just be happy to get back to the studio knowing that it’s safe to open, whenever that might be.”

Even though she updates her studio’s website and Facebook page regularly, Estes felt compelled to call the parents of her students personally because the cancelation of her Saturday classes happened so abruptly. 

“They’re all thanking me, telling me to stay safe,” she said. 

At the time of her interview, Sallee Slagle of Dance Dimensions in Nahant had suspended bigger classes and was taking extensive precautions to sanitize her studio for smaller lessons.   

Her professional company, Forty Steps Dance, was scheduled to perform at the Nahant Town Hall in two weeks. In the wake of so many closings, Slagle was hopeful but uncertain whether the show would be able to go on. 

“I feel like the arts are an important part of recovery and unity during this time when we’re going to feel a bit isolated,” she said, adding that her company has discussed the possibility of broadcasting the performance. 

“To be able to broadcast something artistic and entertaining, especially in the light of so many entertainment forms not being available, I’d like to (do that),” she said. “I don’t know if it will be viable. We’re looking at all options.”

After her interview with the Item, Slagle received notification that all Nahant public buildings would close indefinitely and made the decision to suspend her classes until further notice. 

For teachers and students alike, the prolonged time away from the studio is difficult for those who consider their dance friends to be more like family. 

“I have a big family in my studio,” Estes said. “People always say we’re just like one big dancing family.”