Ballet academy sees growth despite new guidelines

 

By Blake Spurney

News-Ledger Staff

 

McPHERSON—Like with any other instruction being offered to pupils in a a COVID-19 world, the McPherson Classical Coaching Academy has had to adapt how it teaches dance.

Owner Jessica Magnall said her academy saw an increase in enrollment in her second year teaching ballet and hip hop dancing, and she actually had to bring in two new instructors.

“It’s not the growth rate I would expect, but I didn’t expect an increase at all,” she said.

Students have the option of getting instruction via Zoom, which Magnall is offering at a reduced rate. Others can opt for private lessons. All in-person training is done within guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She said each student had a minimum of 250 square feet in which to maneuver. Students get their temperatures checked before each session, and the training area is wiped down with sanitizer after each session. Masks are required.

“Teaching is different because because I teach a lot with my face and my facial expressions,” she said. “So that’s been a major adjustment for me personally.”

Magnall said she missed the personal contact she normally would have with students.

“I think that’s across the arts community,” she said. “We’re all feeling that.”

Magnall, who studied ballet Canada National Ballet School in Toronto, is in her 16th year as an instructor. She said she’d continue to make whatever adjustments were necessary to continue teaching through the season. 

For instance, Magnall said she reduced her class sizes for her youngest students to four. She had two young students in a class this morning who hadn’t seen each other in months, and naturally they started chasing each other. She said she had to tell them to stop. She’s also added markings on the floor to give students direction about their space limitations. She’s also assigned places where students can go remove their masks and breathe, when necessary.

“I think I’m on version 10 on how to mark the floor so I can determine the best way to do it,” she said.

Magnall said anyone could benefit from ballet. She teaches a progressing ballet technique that helps cross-train one’s muscles for any other athletic endeavor. Former Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Lynn Swann famously credited ballet for his success on the gridiron.

Magnall said enrollment for contemporary dance, ballet and cross-training would continue through Sept. 1. Classes start Sept. 14 for all ages and run through the following spring. For more information, call 785-280-0745 or visit mcphersonacademy.com.