Skip to main content

The true tale of a 'Twisted' summer dance recital that got its name before the coronavirus shutdown

By Billie Owens

Above, a Baby Ballet trio demonstrates a graceful arm pose.

Faced with the crushing prospect of having to cancel dance recitals showcasing students' hard work and talent, Batavia-based LAW Dance Studio enlisted plenty of parents to pull off a creative feat, despite COVID-19.

They came up with a plan for staggered recitals outdoors demonstrating newly polished dance skills.

"Twisted 2020 Dance Recital" was held June 30, July 2 and July 6 outside in Elba to accommodate coronavirus mandates for social distancing. The poster boasted that "We've locked in our routines during lockdown."

Lisa Blaun, who owns the studio at 218 W. Main St., said when schools closed and the state went into a mandatory shelter-in-place on Saturday, March 14th, all in-studio lessons stopped.

"We were in the thick of learning recital routines and embarking on competition season," Blaun said in an email to The Batavian. "At that time, there were so many unknowns and a high level of uncertainty. As a small boutique studio and as a business owner whose livelihood this studio is, I took a week off to allow for the new reality to settle in and to take the time to weigh my options.

"I launched virtual zoom classes where I remained in the studio instructing my dancers who were logged in from their homes. In some ways, it was interesting to have this format as it allowed me to see certain technique translations more directly that may have otherwise been lost in a full classroom environment. The Zoom classes kept my dancers learning and active, and gave parents some sense of normalcy.

"The question of what to do with the recital loomed. Ironically, the theme had been set for months as "Twisted." Who would have known how true this theme would represent reality?

"These kids worked so hard. Parents invested time and money. They not only deserved to have the recital that is the payoff for their efforts, but they also needed it to feel normal under these weird circumstances.

"I met with a core group of parents that assist the studio to throw around some ideas while working within the state restrictions. I decided to extend the season by a month to allow more time for kids to learn the dances with the hope restrictions would decrease.

"In the end, I decided to host a recital outside over three days. I utilized the remnants of a chicken coop on my family's property that served as the

perfect stage. I brought my floor from the studio and made it work. We got extremely lucky with the weather. The outdoor setting and three-day timeframe allowed for smaller numbers and social distancing.

"Only core family members/siblings were invited to attend. We did not charge or sell tickets. We recorded each dance over those three days and are in the process of creating a video recital that will seem like one seamless event.

"This video will be provided to parents at no charge so they can share it widely with their community of folks that couldn't otherwise attend. We were also able to take group and individual photographs of each dancer and will provide photos to parents free of charge. 

"I could not have pulled any of this off without the support of parents and the dedication of my dancers. I am so incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful group of families committed to me and my studio. They hung in there with me and allowed for creativity. I was thrilled to be able to provide this recital experience. It was truly special and one I will never forget. In many ways, it brought us all closer together.

"I am looking forward to the 20-2021 dance season and a new normal, whatever that may be. My little studio proved we could be flexible and shift with the times and I am ready for anything that may come this fall. I will be hosting an open house and a dance intensive course in August if state restrictions allow, so look for more details to come."

Image and photos, courtesy of Lisa Blaun.

Below, the classic pointe.

Below, young hip-hop nation.

Below, the ballerina lift.

Below, the angst of musical theater in the Age of Coronavirus.

Bright smiles all around and great form, too.

Below, the acrobatic pyramid requires a lot of flexibility.

Below, spotlight on contemporary dance.

Authentically Local