CLARION – Parents, the world over in the time of the coronavirus shutdown, are looking for things to keep their children active and learning. Clarion’s Dancer’s Studio has been there on the front lines, keeping kids dancing.

Amanda “A-Jo” Gallagher of Dancer’s Studio said that the large majority of her 170 students have been taking part in online dance classes ever since the shutdowns began.

“We’re holding our classes through Zoom,” Gallagher said of the popular meeting website.

The digital platform allows Gallagher and her five dance teachers and two music teachers to see their students, and for the 170 students to see their instructors.

“You can see everyone,” she said, noting that she prefers to use a large screen television so she can better critique her students. “It’s a great way to come together and see everyone.”

During classes, Gallagher said the students keep their microphones muted so they can listen to their instructor. At the end of classes, she said they all unmute and have time to talk with each other.

When the state mandated that nonessential businesses close down, Gallagher said she first and foremost wanted to keep her employees working. By going online, she can not only meet that goal but also keep the young dancers and musicians learning.

“This is an awesome way to keep it going,” she said, noting that many competitions and other events have had to be canceled this year. The studio, however, can still work toward its goal of staging a year-end recital, which at this point Gallagher said is still on. She said that if the traditional stage venues used remain closed, she plans to set up an amphitheater area at her family farm outside of Clarion so that the kids can perform and parents can watch from their cars.

“That’s a last resort,” she said.

In transitioning from face-to-face instruction to online classes, Gallagher credited her office manager Kelly Peterson, also the acro teacher, for working nonstop to set everything up.

The response from students and parents alike has been great, Gallagher said.

“It’s actually been emotional — just seeing everyone,” she explained. “It’s a great way for our dance family to reconnect.”

In addition to the online classes, Gallagher said Dancer’s Studio has provided students with an online resource page, giving them more activities they can do during the time off from school.

“It’s been a very positive experience,” she said.

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