Dance studios feeling impacts of Victorian COVID-19 restrictions

TOUGH: Taylor Faulkner and Meegan Strauss' Wodonga dance studio remains closed under restrictions. Picture: TARA TREWHELLA
TOUGH: Taylor Faulkner and Meegan Strauss' Wodonga dance studio remains closed under restrictions. Picture: TARA TREWHELLA

It's been a stressful and testing first year in business for dance studio owners Meegan Strauss and Taylor Faulkner.

The pair had 90 students in Wodonga, Victoria, near the NSW border, when they opened the doors of MT Dance Creative at the start of the year, but that figure has now halved.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria they have only spent 11 weeks teaching face-to-face classes, and under the state's roadmap, look unlikely to return to the studio until November 23.

Miss Strauss said while they have been able to offer zoom classes throughout the pandemic, kids are just simply losing interest.

"At this point the kids have spent six months doing online classes and they're just so over it," she said.

"It's very hard, especially for our young ones, they find it really hard to engage online.

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"We're so glad we still had that way to be able to connect and do the classes, but it's just not the same at all."

Miss Strauss believes dance studios should be defined in their own category and allowed to open when students return to classrooms.

Rutherglen Academy of Dance owner Natalee Kamiyama agreed the rules were puzzling.

"We've been lumped in with brothels, so we're the last people that can actually open," Miss Kamiyama said.

"If they're in the classroom together all day at school, why can't they be in the classroom with me?

"It's just really disappointing when children can go back to soccer and contact sport."

Despite the pleas of regional dance studios, the date does not appear to be shifting.

"Decisions on the operation of indoor facilities including gymnastics and dance studios for amateur participants will continue to be based on public health advice," a government spokesperson said.

Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said it's a "ridiculous situation."

"For many young kids, particularly girls, dance is their most popular form of activity and exercise and sport, and frankly, they should be allowed to safely go back to their dance classes," he said.

"I get that there is some evidence that suggests the virus is more easily spread indoors, but at the same time, these rules and the roadmap have given the greenlight to contact sport for under-18s."

With residents able to cross the border, MT Dance Creative is now looking at the possibility of offering classes in Albury.

This story Children's dance studios 'lumped in with brothels' under restrictions first appeared on The Border Mail.