OLEAN – Students in the Dance Arts program were able to perform for the family on Thursday after a year of unusual classes and rehearsals due to the coronavirus pandemic.
And for keeping her dancers young and young at heart safe over the past year, owner Marcia Gallineaux-Hubert was honored with a special proclamation from Mayor Bill Aiello on behalf of the city on the occasion of her 40th anniversary.
“Dance Arts has taken many steps to keep the studio safe and open during the pandemic,” the mayor said. “Tonight’s performance is a celebration of the studio’s successful year despite the circumstances.”
Aiello also congratulated Gallineaux-Hubert on his four decades at the helm of the studio. “His dedication and commitment to his students is unwavering and his contributions to Olean are significant,” he said.
Members of ballet, acrobatics, tap dancing, musical theater, shining stars, herd shapes and jazz lessons gathered in Lincoln Park under the structure of the Farmers’ Market to show what they learned from a small audience. For those who could not attend, a livestream of the performances was available on the “Dance Arts Olean” Facebook page.
Dance Arts would normally have their year-end performances for two nights in the Olean High School auditorium, explained Beckie Wheeler, head of the Dance Arts office.
“We have three senior dancers that we didn’t want to put aside, or one of our dancers who worked their way through it all,” she said.
Over the past year, Dance Arts has continued to evolve amid the pandemic to keep classes running as smoothly as possible. From online classes via Facebook in the spring of 2020 to a planned system to bring students in and out of the studio at 132 N. Union St. starting in September, Gallineaux-Hubert has done everything it can to provide the environment as safe as possible while improving the technique of the dancers.
The studio also brought in new equipment, including computers, so that students who had to quarantine themselves from their homes could still lecture and give, Wheeler said.
“She went above and beyond anything the regulations said we had to do to keep the studio all sanitized and the students to be safe,” she said. “We really like to show what she did, how we kept it all together under the circumstances.”
Meanwhile, Wheeler said the studio had never had a case in the building or had to quarantine. Although some students had to quarantine themselves at home, COVID-19 was never introduced to Dance Arts.
Gallineaux-Hubert said Thursday’s performances were like a dance class set to music where the audience could see things that were not normally done during a performance, such as teachers helping dancers, counting, giving clues and even leader.
“They learned and they grew,” she said of her students. “Life is like crossing a bridge, and I build it as I cross it because we couldn’t see where we were going. We are very proud of our dancers.