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Tonawanda Dance Arts gets innovative with distance learning

Posted at 4:51 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 18:28:01-04

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Instructors at Tonawanda Dance Arts said goodbye to their students on March 14, but they were determined that wouldn't be the last time they see their students' faces.

"Within a couple of days we started our classes back up via Zoom, within a week we had a schedule up and running. We had a classroom, like a virtual classroom for people to go to," said Melanie Boniszewski, Owner of the Tonawanda Dance Arts.

They were even able to have a recital in May. On July 6, they were able to open with limited capacity and social distancing.

But understanding that not all parents would be comfortable with in-person classes, they're offering virtual classes.

"We have also invested in technology so we are able to stream all our classes live to have kids take class from home. So the kids kind of feel like they are in the classroom taking the class with their friends" said Boniszewski.

You also have the option of creating your own class. If you want your kid to have a private lesson, or a duet with someone, the studio will work with you.

For instructors, it was a challenge not seeing their students in person.

"I feel like for me as a teacher that was one of the hardest challenges, was to not be able to reach through the screen and just [say] hey you're doing good. Hey let's keep going and just being able to find a way to still reach them," said Miranda Spada, Dance Instructor & Competition Director. "As dance teachers especially we thrive on the energy of the students and we thrive on being able to be - we call this studio our home. Growing up as dancers this is where you lived and where you did your work and where you found yourself."

Staff here at Tonawanda Dance Arts learned that it's difficult to not see your students in person for so long. They also learned that hings can change quickly.

"We had a whole plan of what we were going to do March 14, 72 hours later it was completely changed. And I think it really taught me to remember that like it'll be okay," said Spada.

For the sake of their young students, it had to be.

"We just feel that dance is really important, and it's something that the children need, the families need and we want to keep the kids active," said Boniszewski.