With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting day-to-day life as we know it, Melanie Gibbs, owner of three dance studios in South Florida, was quick to respond, temporarily suspending physical classes on March 14 and launching a Google site with virtual dance classes available to her clients two days later.
“We pulled a 12-hour day on Sunday to get as much virtual content up for our people on Monday as we could when a lot of the studios hadn’t even made the decision to close yet,” she said.
Her studios, Weston Dance Academy, in Weston, ProAm Dance Studio, in Pompano Beach, and Boca Dance Studio, in Boca Raton, serve children as young as 3 through high school, with beginner weekly classes all the way to performance companies for those who professional aspirations in dance.
This past week, the website offered prerecorded dance classes divided by skill set and age groups along with a bonus resource page families can turn to for help beyond how to properly do a demi-plié.
“We’re sharing everything from activities to do with your kids while you’re home to self-care for parents who are exhausted and finding themselves suddenly having to be a home schoolteacher,” Gibbs said.
Starting Monday (March 23), Gibbs will be moving her Google site to a subscriber-based platform and adding a live component that will include real-time classes and Q&A sessions for both parents and children. This will be in addition to the content already posted, which includes story time videos—children books being read by one of Gibbs’ 35 staff members.
“As a mom, you can buy 10 minutes of time, go do a load of laundry, go fix dinner, go help older brother with homework while the little one sits and watches a story time with a book read by one of our teachers,” Gibbs said.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with parents emailing and calling in with messages of gratitude and cheer.
“[They] are sending us the best photos and little videos of their little one, who’s put on their leotard, put on their tap shoes and is standing in the family room in front of the TV taking their class. It’s been really positive,” Gibbs said.