Dance studio finally holds COVID-delayed recital
By Karen Carr Keefe
It was a long time in coming, but Step-In-Time Studio of Dance is finally holding its June dance recital this week. The event, delayed by the coronavirus outbreak, is taking place in a series of daily mini-performances, with about 145 students divided into separate, small shows. With masks, temperature checks and social distancing, the pandemic brought a new date and a new look to the event. And it brought tears of joy to the eyes of a number of parents.
Kimberly Everett of East Amherst was one of the parents and students lined up outside, standing 6 feet apart, awaiting her daughter’s portion of the recital. She said she was relieved and proud of Stephanie, 11.
“I’m actually like almost in tears thinking that this day was never going to get here and so thankful that we’ve been able to do it this week,” Everett said. “The girls have worked so hard. … I’m just glad that they’re finally able to do it and show off all their hard work.”
Stephanie has been a dancer since she was 2, and this was her ninth recital.
“It’s really fun. Everybody is really nice,” she said.
Lindsay DeSantis also waited in line with her daughter, Samantha, 10, a student at Huth Elementary.
“Step-In-Time’s a great place; it gives her a lot of friends, and it just means so much to see her be able to do her recital,” DeSantis said.
Samantha has been taking lessons at Step-In-Time for three years, and her favorite classes are acro and baton.
“I really like it and I like my parents watching what I do because they seem really happy when I do the things I like to do,” she said.
Jackie Masker said both her daughters, Talia and Gianna, have danced at Step-in-Time since they were 3. Older daughter Gianna, 13, assists in teaching some classes. Younger daughter, Talia, 10, is a fifth-grader at Huth Elementary who takes ballet and acrobatics in twice-weekly classes.
“I like acro because I can do a lot of tricks. I like jumping around, doing cartwheels and back bends,” she said.
Her mother said it’s been a long road to recital.
“When everything shut down, it’s very difficult – this is a part of your life – we’re at dance five days a week,” Masker said. “So now that it’s reopened and they’re able to have this recital, it means a lot to us. “It’s a sense of normalcy in this very unnormal situation that we’re in right now. They put a lot of work into this last year and then online when they were able to, and now at the beginning of this year, so it’s really nice to be able to see the culmination of that and enjoy this.”
Studio owner and founder Deby LeFevre orchestrated the recital for maximum safety, efficiency and fun. She said there is an award stage to honor each of the dancers “because they did it!“ she said.
“That’s the most important thing is that we finished. And I think that’s a huge accomplishment because we didn’t give up,” LeFevre said.
This is her 40th annual dance show, and it’s called “Totally ’80s,” because LeFevre started teaching in 1980. Every song featured in the routines is from the 1980s. The studio offers Mommy and Me classes that start for the kids at age 2, and the classes go up to college-age kids who still dance through the studio. The classes include ballet, tap and jazz, acrobatics, baton, hip-hop for the older students, and “Flip-hop,” a form she created for the younger kids that compares to Disney Junior dancing.
She’s very happy with the studio location at Trinity United Methodist Church’s original building on Whitehaven Road.
“To move into historic Trinity three years ago … and it’s our studio home now, forever. We have a fabulous, beautiful family waiting room, we have a locker room, we have two studios and we have the gym we use for baton twirling,” LeFevre said.
Since COVID-19 hit the U.S., some classes have been held virtually and some in person, with parents choosing their preference for their children.
“We’re open six days a week and we have a high-tech system that is more than just Zoom. A 75-inch television is our monitor, so the kids at home, we can really see what they’re doing, and they’re in the class just like the kids that are physically here,” she said.
LeFevre, like other Western New Yorkers, was just learning Wednesday that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had, hours before, sent Buffalo and most Erie County suburbs into “orange zone” status for now. That puts schools into remote learning pending widespread testing of teachers and students.
“Today we went to ‘orange,’ ” LeFevre said, “We take temperatures as the kids come in and they hand-sanitize coming into the building and when they switch rooms. Walking throughout the building they always have masks on, and they’re in 6-foot-by-6-foot personal dance spaces.”
The governor’s orders also limit church attendance, curtail indoor dining and shutter gyms, hair salons and personal care services.
“We’re still here and I hope to remain here,” LeFevre said. “Especially during this COVID time, people can Zoom in. They can take whatever class, many days of the week. It is a blessing. And I’m also offering free trial classes through Zoom.”