Maureen Keyes, owner of Xtreme Talent Dance Company in Abbotsford. (Vikki Hopes/Abbotsford News file photo)

Maureen Keyes, owner of Xtreme Talent Dance Company in Abbotsford. (Vikki Hopes/Abbotsford News file photo)

Owner of Abbotsford dance studio says industry continues to be impacted

Latest restrictions affected registration, says Maureen Keyes of Xtreme Talent Dance Company

The owner of an Abbotsford dance studio is pleased that restrictions have been lifted Thursday (Jan. 20) on adult classes, but says the damage has already been done.

Maureen Keyes of Xtreme Talent Dance Company said the last set of restrictions further impacted an industry that had already been hit hard by the pandemic.

The last set of restrictions was placed Dec. 22, closing bars, nightclubs and fitness centres

Dance studios were also impacted, but Keyes said what people didn’t realize is that only adult classes – ages 22 and older – were closed; children’s classes were allowed to continue because they fell under the category of “youth recreational activity.”

But Keyes said because of a “lack of clarity” from the government, many people who might have wanted to start their kids in dance assumed studios were completely closed down.

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She said this affected their registration numbers going into the new year. Where the studio would normally have around 350 students at this time of year, they’re now at about 225.

“People who were hoping to sign their child up for dance were thinking we were closed,” Keyes said.

The studio also had to temporarily halt its eight weekly adult dance classes.

The orders were lifted Thursday for all but nightclubs and bars, but Keyes said she and her fellow dance studio owners never received any explanation about why kids’ classes could continue, while the adult ones were ceased.

“That doesn’t make any sense at all … My biggest frustration, I’d say, would be not having any clarity (from the government) and not being upfront,” she said.

Keyes previously expressed dismay with provincial health orders in November 2020. At that time, “sports and indoor physical activities” – including dance classes, spin cases, yoga, boxing, martial arts and hockey – were suspended, but other activities, such as gymnastics and cheerleading, were allowed to continue.

RELATED: Abbotsford dance studio owner dismayed about latest health order

That order was lifted in steps from May to July 2021 under the province’s restart plan.

Keyes said the mental health of many of her students took a hit during this time, when they could only do classes through Zoom and their dance competitions were filmed with no audience present and then submitted for judging.

“It’s not the same. They’ve had everything stripped from them. Normally, they sign up, we dance our hearts out and then we get to compete,” she said.

With the rise of cases due to the Omicron variant, there is continued uncertainty, but Keyes hopes the worst is behind and people continue to recognize dance as an integral part of the community.

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