GLENMONT — Dance recitals are just another thing COVID-19 has taken from us this year. In the laundry list of options no longer available due to the (spiking) pandemic, anything art and culture has been stifled.
However, Shannon McConnell, the owner of Inspirational Movement Dance, knows how important recitals are to her students. For some, it’s a time to show off the skills they’ve mastered in class; for others, it’s a time to perform for Grandma and Grandpa.
McConnell devised a plan to record this year’s recital and send CDs home with her students. However, the recitals have a spin. While most people would think to record a room of dancers like a fly on the wall, McConnell is determined to do better.
McConnell and studio parent Tom Kahill, the owner of Tom Kahill Videography and Editing, teamed up to record a recital where each student is showcased.
It worked like this: McConnell and Kahill set up in the studio. Each student will come in and dance a 10 minute block. Once a clip of each student was taken, Kahill edited the students to look as if they are dancing together, creating the illusion the dancers are putting on a grand show while maintaining the social distancing protocols needed to keep businesses like Inspirational Movement Dance open. Dancers also wore masks the entire show.
“Students get a massive adrenaline rush from performing, especially because their families are so supportive,” McConnell said. “When we first closed down in March, our recital was cancelled and returning students were disappointed they weren’t able to perform. New students missed out on a milestone they rightfully earned. I knew we needed to do this because we need to give these students a chance to shine.”
McConnell said the holiday recital was aptly named “Inspirational Movement Dance Presents The Night Before Christmas Holiday Showcase,” and centered around Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” The dances were choreographed around the poem, giving dancers a pivotal part of the plot. Overall, the program featured 14 dances showcasing students between 3 and 14 years old. Students’ families received a link to the show, where households could watch at their leisure. McConnell said she’s also hoping grandparents and extended families will be able to watch via FaceTime or by the link itself.
The last number, featuring soloist Jillian Hallisey, is one of hope, light and love as the world enters into 2021.
McConnell is one of many business owners looking for light at the end of 2020’s dark tunnel. While she’s been able to host classes in recent weeks, COVID-19 shut her business down when the pandemic first hit, a major financial setback to her. Even as things are reopening slowly, McConnell is bound by capacity regulations and CDC guidelines.
Inspirational Movement Dance, once a steady stream of toes tapping across the floor, is now more regimented. McConnell set a 15-minute buffer between classes, giving her time to disinfect floors and anything her students might have touched. Despite no street shoes or street clothes being allowed in the studio, she’s finding herself disinfecting as if someone dragged mud through her space — except the mud could potentially be the coronavirus and be the difference between opening and closing down.
“I missed my students and I missed the families I’ve grown so close with,” McConnell said. “When we reopened, I was honored that so many parents trusted me to teach their children.”
Dancers are also confined to 6-by-6 foot blocks and remain masked at all times. If a number requires dancers to move across the room, she will queue up her class and have two move at a time, ensuring 6 feet is kept between everyone at all times.
“The one good thing about being such a small business through this pandemic has been my ability to control everything, instead of having to rely on someone else,” McConnell concluded. “I know things are being done to the specifications I need. I know the space I’m bringing my families into is safe and sterile.”