'Ignorance of the decisions makers' hinders full return to class, but doors set to re-open at dance schools

Anyone who has had anything to do with a dance school would know that physical distancing was a formality long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first thing most dance teachers will say at the start of a class is "now spread out" or "find your own space."

For those classes targeting the youngest students the first direction is "stretch out your arms to find your spaces". Those outstretched arms generally lead to a spacing of at least 1.5 metres.

You see the need for good spacing is all about good common sense.

With pirouettes and high kicks a key part of dance training, standing too close to a class mate could be more dangerous than COVID-19.

Needless to say it is not surprising that dance school principals and teachers are frustrated by the the NSW State Government's reasoning behind the delayed return to business operations.

And the limit of 10 students to a class, when restrictions are marginally eased on dance schools from June 13, is further aggravating all who love to dance or love to teach dance.

The Highlands School of Performing Arts (THSPA) manager Lynne Lindsay is not holding back on her opinion regarding the situation.

Mrs Lindsay has lashed out at "the ignorance of the decision-makers."

"The attitude of the premier [Gladys Berijiklian] is ill-informed and insulting," she said.

"She has bundled us in with gyms and indoor sport, but there are very few similarities.

"We don't use gym equipment, we don't have lots of adults in the room and we are not a contact activity unless we are doing partner work, and that can easily be changed to meet current physical distancing requirements."

But the one comment that has really made Mrs Lindsay's blood boil is a recent suggestion by the premier that dance teachers aren't educated.

When asked recently about when dance school restrictions would be eased Ms Berijiklian said "what happens in our school environment is very different to what happens in an out-of-school environment. School environments are controlled; you have qualified teachers."

"The premier has recently taken on the additional role of Arts Minister, but I think she needs to educate herself in the arts," Mrs Lindsay said.

"As far as I am aware every teacher in a dance school is educated in what they do.

"They have either completed full time performing arts training, have a background in professional performance or have gone through rigorous training in programs such as Glenwood Tap or Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) education."

Mrs Lindsay is also frustrated by the limit of 10 students to a class rule for dance studios.

"The government keeps saying children aren't at risk from Covid, and all children have been directed to return to the classroom, but we can only have 10 children to a dance class," she said.

"Meanwhile, 50 people can sit in a pub or a restaurant.

"There has been no consideration given to the fact that most dance schools could easily have many more students while still meeting the physical distance requirements."

A limit of 10 students per class has created its own logistically and programming problems for dance schools trying to meet the needs of all the enrolled students.

"Dance is a social and physical enjoyment for children," Mrs Lindsay said.

"We have run ZOOM classes during the restrictions, but what the kids really want is to be in a class environment learning what they love alongside their friends."

Despite the frustrations of the regulations to be imposed on dance schools, THSPA will return to a studio environment on June 15.