Dance academy

The dance continues! The music/dance academy has not lost a step

By Mike Cook

“The biggest challenge was dancing,” said Academy of Music and Dance owner Leslie Kowalski, as the academy moved to virtual classes during the pandemic for dance, music and dance students. Kindermusic.

“[It’s about] how to rethink dance,” Kowalski said. “I promised parents and children that we would continue to put on these costumes and have a recital as soon as our governor allows us to get back together. Once we got the go-ahead for kids camps to start with one teacher and five students, we surveyed parents, found out who wanted to have their six-week in-studio makeup classes with four others, and who wanted to continue. in line . With the results about half and half, we continued.

Kowalski bought “Mind Your Spacing” decals, a non-contact thermometer and hospital-grade sanitizers, she said. She and her staff donned masks and set up a Zoom camera to be fully prepared in person and online.

Parents who used to sit on the other side of a glass wall and watch children at rehearsal, ‘now dropped off their masked dancers at one door and picked them up at another door, keeping traffic flowing in one direction’ , said Kowalski.

Staff also began half an hour of cleaning/sanitizing between classes, she said, adding that no props or items were shared and the ballet barre had been removed from the studio.

The dance recital, which had been scheduled for the Las Cruces Public Schools Performing Arts Center at Oñate High School, was “re-imagined,” Kowalski said, and was held July 10 and 11 at the academy’s studio. , 1809 El Paseo Rd.

“Instead of a two-hour recital, we held eight one-hour ‘units’,” she said, with four to five dancers and a teacher on one side of the glass wall and four to five “pods” of four family members wearing masks on the other side.

Beginning at the start of the hour, each dancer had their individual photo taken by professional photographer Jack Diven, Kowalski said, and then performed with their peers, each in their own “box”. The dancers were then sent back individually to have their picture taken with their teacher and receive flowers from the parents. After half an hour, “the whole place was disinfected to prepare for the next group recital,” she said. “Wash, rinse and repeat.”

Dancers did not have to wear masks during recitals, Kowalski said, because the public health order signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham that mandated mask-wearing even while exercising only took effect. July 13.

When they return to the studio on August 3, “the dancers will be wearing masks at all times,” she said. Each dancer will have her own prop kit, water bottle, hand sanitizer and ballet barre wrap, Kowalski said, as the barre returns to the studio.

For the upcoming 2020-21 year which begins this month, five dance classes filled up in two hours on the day of registration, she said.

“It sounds exciting, but a full class has five dancers,” Kowalski said. Prior to COVID-19, five dancers was the number used to declare a class open. “It was our minimum to break even,” she said. “So breaking even is what we’re hoping to do this year to keep the business going.”

Kowalski said she and her staff cordoned off the studio into six-foot squares to be visually clear for students to practice social distancing.

The academy opened as Musical Beginnings in 1993 with Kowalski leading Kindermusik classes. In 2008, the company moved and added private lessons in piano, guitar, voice, violin and all musical instruments. In 2011 it added “a beautiful floating dance floor”, she said, and the name was changed to Academy of Music & Dance.

The academy has five dance teachers offering ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and pom, as well as adult tap. Kowalski is preparing to teach Kindermusik on Zoom, she said, and using the same six-foot box system, hopes to soon bring “toddlers and musical babies” back into the studio with their parents.

Private lessons continue to be in-person with masks required unless the student prefers Zoom, Kowalski said. The academy also offers Piano Teams, a 45-minute group lesson for young children not quite ready for private lessons.

Dance and Kindermusik lessons and private music lessons began Aug. 3 and continue through mid-August, she said. Any course can be followed live in the studio (the number of participants is five or six maximum) or on Zoom. Classes take place from Monday to Saturday.

To set up a visit to the academy, find the course schedule and other information visit Call 575-525-2090 and email [email protected]