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23 September 2020
Dance studios across the region have joined a chorus calling for COVID-19 reclassification under a State Government recovery roadmap.
Dance and calisthenics clubs must wait alongside indoor sports such as gymnastics, basketball, squash and other gym-based activities until November 23 to resume classes under the latest rules.
But dance teachers are disappointed and frustrated with the ruling, arguing that restrictions are contradictory, especially involving children.
Karen Booker from Horsham School of Dance said the industry had been subject to a roller-coaster of emotions and now faced an extension of restrictions that made little sense.
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“The biggest concern is that the children we want to teach in our dance classes are exactly the same kids who are going to school each day,” she said.
“They can go to school in larger groups in more confined space – that’s okay – but they can’t come to their dance class.
“We can easily cope with 10 or under. I’m happy to run classes with those small numbers – we’ve cut out any of the risk factors.
“At the start I was fully on board with all the restrictions and thought ‘whatever we need to do’ but the ‘we’re all in this together’ thing – it’s just not happening.
“Some of us have been really affected badly.
“I feel for all the pubs and clubs – they’ve been decimated – but they’re allowed to start back.
“What’s the difference between having 10 people in a pub for hours and kids under 18 in a dance class for 45 minutes?
“Premier Daniel Andrews might be making more announcements on Sunday and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that regional Victoria might be able to move to that next level and we can open for the start of term four. But there is still a lot of talk around that we will be locked down until November 23.”
Laura Cameron from Dynamic Dance in Ararat echoed the sentiments.
“I believe restrictions are needed to keep us all safe at this time. However, the dance industry needs to be classified more appropriately and recognised,” she said.
“We would really appreciate the opportunity to safely resume operating alongside other businesses that are able to open with the eased restrictions.
“Kids congregate at playgrounds, can crash tackle each other on football grounds, but we can’t open our doors to one dance student, regardless of how well satisfied and social distanced everyone is and following all those COVID-safe procedures.
“I definitely feel for all the studios operating across the state. It will have a huge impact if we can’t return until late term four.”
Dance Arts Alliance chair Mike Harrison-Lamond called for an immediate reclassification of dance studios under the restrictions.
Mr Harrison-Lamond said the government had ‘all but ensured the collapse of dance schools through a litany of on-the-run policy decisions being made by bureaucrats with no understanding of the industry’.
“While a large portion of regional Victorian businesses celebrate by opening their doors, nothing has changed for regional studios as they teach online in empty buildings with no COVID cases in their towns – all because dance schools have been inexplicably categorised alongside gyms,” he said.
“Dance schools across Victoria have been frantically adapting their businesses since March and have been doing it without government support.”
Mr Harrison-Lamond said an Ausdance Victoria survey showed more than 50 percent of dance schools had not received any financial support from federal or state governments, because of their business structure.
“This is a disgraceful way to treat an industry that provides incredibly important social, physical and mental development in the lives of young Victorians,” he said.
“In June the Victorian Government acknowledged us as a low-risk activity and we went back in line with schools.
“Now they think we are the same as gyms – it makes no sense.
“Children can learn to dance in their local primary or high school, yet a professional school can’t open to provide the same service.”
The entire September 23, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!