At least one Tulsa school will be back on its feet come Monday.

The Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education will begin holding classes beginning July 27 for a new program called “Get Back to Dance,” with sessions geared toward students of all ages and skill levels.

The program is designed to help students prepare to return for the school’s fall semester.

“We will be offering classes in our Brookside studios,” said Arlene Minkhorst, Tulsa Ballet’s director of education. “We’re also outfitting our studios so we can also offer these classes virtually for those who are not comfortable with coming to the studio.”

Minkhorst said the ballet’s satellite facility in Broken Arrow, the Hardesty Center for Dance Education, will begin holding its “Get Back to Dance” classes Aug. 3.

The two facilities will begin their regular fall semester classes starting Aug. 24.

“We’re all anxious to get back into the studio and get back to work,” she said. “But a great deal of thought and planning went into figuring out exactly how we could resume classes.”

Minkhorst said the Tulsa company considered what other companies around the world had done in beginning to reopen their dance schools, saying, “We were able to draw from some of their experiences and knowledge in working out what we would do.”

She credited Artistic Director Marcello Angelini for seeking out the participation of Dr. Brett Jaggers, a physician specializing in infectious diseases, to help the company in finding ways to reopen the school.

“Dr. Jaggers was extremely generous with her time and expertise,” Minkhorst said. “She took part in some of our meetings with parents and really helped us all understand why we needed to do the things we’re doing.”

Faculty and staff members of the Center for Dance Education spent much of the past week marking out spaces in which students would be allowed to work in the various dance studios.

“When students will be at the barre, they will be a minimum of 6 feet apart,” Minkhorst said. “We are also sectioning off areas that would give each student between 7 and 10 feet of personal space in the studio. We’re also limiting the number of students in each class, so that these distances can be maintained.”

Temperatures of students and faculty will be taken upon entering and exiting the school, hand-sanitizing stations will be set up at all entrances, and the school will stagger arrival and departure times to help maintain social distancing.

Parents are asked not to accompany their children into the school to help limit the number of people in the building at a given time.

Also, the school will work so that students stay with the same teacher throughout the course.

“That way, if someone does become ill, we won’t necessarily need to shut down the entire school, just quarantine members of this one class,” Minkhorst said.

And everyone — students, as well as instructors — are required to wear masks.

“We know this is a difficult issue, and we’ve had some families tell us they would wait about enrolling in the school until things had returned to normal,” Minkhorst said. “We understand that — they are doing what they think is best for them.”

Minkhorst said the school’s curriculum has also been modified. All classes that involve close contact have been suspended, for example.

“We just can’t be doing pas de deux and lifts and partnering as things are now,” Minkhorst said. “So our adult students will be doing a lot more solo work.

“The safety of our students and faculty is paramount, and we’re doing what we think is best to ensure that safety,” she said.

The Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education is accepting enrollment for the 2020 fall semester, as well as for the “Get Back to Dance” program. For more information, visit tulsaballet.org/classes.


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James D. Watts Jr.

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