At first glance, classes at Hope Street’s ballet studio appear almost normal; they may be smaller, sure, but students still practice pliés and pirouettes at the barre as part of children’s, teen/adult, adaptive, and core ballet programs. The real changes, however, appear behind the scenes.
“We know how important in-person dance education is and that the benefits are so far-reaching for students,” begins Marissa Parmenter, director of dance education at Festival Ballet. “We want to return to the studio in the most responsible manner possible.”
Some of the precautions instituted in the studio are basic, like daily professional cleaning, wiping down high-touch surfaces between classes, and keeping kids spaced apart. Then there’s the bigger changes, like upgrading the HVAC system for airflow and ventilation, arranging four separate entrances to limit student crossover, temperature checks, and, most challengingly, adapting the classes themselves.
“We got rid of anything that would require teachers or students to be in close proximity, including partnering and all hands-on corrections,” says Dina Melley, who taught Festival Ballet’s summer program. “It’s really forced us to get creative in how we communicate with our students and help them develop as dancers and artists.”
While the studio’s performances have been cancelled – including the beloved Nutcracker – in-person classes are open for ongoing enrollment. Find more information on scheduling and COVID-19 safety at FestivalBalletProvidence.org.