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Lynn Mini Movers redefine (on) line dancing

By Elyse Carmosino | March 19, 2020

LYNN — Considering Jackie Bowden started her mobile dance studio as a way to encourage kids to be more active, one could say recent North Shore school closures are the Lynn native’s call to arms. 

With thousands of children directed to wait out the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic at home, Bowden, the founder of Lynn-based Mini Movers, has begun offering online dance classes to keep kids ages 2 to 10 entertained and moving. 

“A lot of things are postponed, so I was trying to think of a way to still continue offering dance classes to the community,” she said. “The whole concept of my business is to bring dance to kids.”

To ease the burden on parents and caregivers, the dance instructor created a free ‘dance at home’ kit, which includes two YouTube videos, a dance bingo page, and coloring pages. 

Those looking for more interactive instruction also have the opportunity to schedule virtual classes in ballet, jazz hop, musical theatre, and story movement. Bowden charges $7 or $8 depending on class length.  

“I’m part of a lot of dance teacher groups, and (members) started talking about online and virtual classes, so I decided to offer (online classes) to anyone who still wanted to take dance,” she said. “The way it’s working right now, I created a schedule that people can log into to see the classes I’m offering, and they can sign up from there.”

She held her first virtual lesson Tuesday morning via Google Hangout. 

“There were some issues with the speaker, so I’m still trying to figure out the technical side of things,” she said. “But so far I’ve had a few signups and people reaching out about different days and times I have to offer.”

Charlestown parent Erin Kuzminski said Bowden’s online class offered her 2-year-old daughter, Noelle, a sense of normalcy during an otherwise confusing time.

“She looks forward to class, (to) seeing her friends and Jackie each week, and doesn’t understand why she isn’t able to continue that routine right now,” Kuzminski said. “We’ll be signing up for more classes to give her something to look forward to every few days.”

Kuzminski added she was grateful Bowden is offering her services online. 

“Jackie taking this time to offer these classes to the kids who can’t comprehend why we have to stay inside all day is such a blessing when we’re all living through such an uncertain time,” she said. 

Currently, Bowden only has one-on-one classes scheduled, but she said she’s prepared to hold sessions with up to seven students. 

“I’m very flexible and adding things as I go,” she said. 

Bowden isn’t a stranger to offering creative alternatives to traditional, studio-based dance classes. In fact, it’s what she’s dedicated her career to. 

The former substitute school teacher, who has a performing arts background, said she was inspired to found Mini Movers after seeing how little exercise is incorporated into most public and private school educations. 

“From substitute teaching within the school system, I noticed how kids aren’t really moving throughout the day,” she said. “They’re kind of just sitting at their desks.” 

As a way of addressing the issue, her business partners with schools to bring dance education to students by incorporating various movement activities into their day-to-day schedules. 

Despite being unable to meet students in person for the next several weeks, Bowden said she sees a silver lining: This experience has inspired her to incorporate online classes into Mini Movers’ curriculum even long after pandemic restrictions are lifted. 

“Since this just got thrown at everyone so quickly, I’m now realizing this may be something I want to continue offering post-quarantine. Because it is virtual, literally anyone anywhere can sign up for a class,” she said. “Maybe (I can offer classes to) kids who don’t have access to a dance studio where they live, or their schedules don’t work with what studios around them offer. It’s definitely something I’m contemplating, giving more kids the opportunity to dance.”

Bowden’s classes are available for sign-up at minimoversstudio.com/virtual-classes.