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Studios offer students virtual lessons during coronavirus pandemic shutdown

Things have not looked the same for local businesses since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but local studios are finding ways to continue providing lessons for their students, despite the cancellation of regular actitivities.

Studio X-Treme owner Heather Davis said during the shutdown, lessons moved from the studio to online through ZOOM.

“Technology played a big role in keeping kids involved,” Davis said. She said she had experience with online lessons but had never taught a group class virtually. “It was definitely different, looking through the ZOOM screen.”

Each class had up to 15 students, with multiple classes being taught each week.

Davis said despite virtual lessons allowing students to continue working on their skills, they did not afford the same benefits of meeting in person.

“There are several things where you need hands-on instruction or in-person demonstration that you are not able to do online,” Davis said. “It’s also tough because you’re not as able to make corrections.”

AFTT Studio owner Addie Pickett Harbin agreed it has been tough not being able to assist the students one-on-one through virtual classes, but they are making the best of it.

“It takes a little longer to complete tasks virtually, but that’s OK,” she said. “We all improvise to make the best of the situation.”

Despite virtual classes taking away the one-on-one aspect of training, Pickett Harbin said she has been happy to see how dedicated her students have been during this time.

Pickett Harbin said some students have even taken the opportunity to dedicate a space to lessons and make their own dance studios at home.

Davis agreed the stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders have made several students work harder.

“I feel like a lot of them are working harder because they have more free time, so they take a lot of time to practice,” Davis said.

In addition to regular studio lessons, Davis said she was also able to offer students virtual lessons with several collegiate twirlers and even Miss Majorette of America.

Davis said the studio was also used for virtual solo competitions and virtual college tryouts.

“We had several students have auditions to be college twirlers during this time,” Davis said. “We had three girls named as UNA majorettes, one as a feature twirler at Northeast Mississippi Community College and one named as a Crimsonette at Alabama.”

Pickett Harbin said although the virus changed the way the studio holds classes, the upside is that it made her and her students appreciate the ability to gather for in-person lessons.

“I will never take a class for granted again, and I know they would agree,” Pickett Harbin said.

Davis and Pickett Harbin both said they are both beginning to allow classes in the studio with precautions and social distancing.

Despite those restrictions, Pickett Harbin said it is just great to have the studio full of smiling faces again.