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Jessica Magnall opened up her dance studio in McPherson about a year ago, and she was in the middle of planning the first spring recital of that studion when COVID-19 began sweeping across the globe and nation.
That means no more in-persion practices, as her studio is having to transition to a new way of teaching and doing business on the fly.
“It has flipped my whole schedule upside down,” Magnall said. “It is strange. I only ever get to see my two daughters in class. … The rest of my kiddos, I really miss.”
All of the classes of McPherson Classical Coaching Academy have moved to online, using streaming video for instruction.
It has proven to be quite a challenge — but one with a reward.
“It is insane. I am teaching into an open studio. It is super challenging. I like being with people, and being hands on. It is exciting that we have the technology,” Magnall said. “... The upside is I get to meet with each of my students one on one. I can focus on just them for 30 minutes. My favorite thing to teach is private lessons.”
Gone is the need to work around a school schedule, as schools were closed by executive order by the governor March 17. That’s kind of an advantage when it comes to scheduling.
It also opened up something new for the academy — which is now offering a library of videos that can be used for home physical education classes.
“It is amazing that I can provide something for kids to do for PE with all of this homeschooling stuff,” Magnall said. “We can give kids access to all of our online library, meaning they have access to fitness classes, ballet and cross training. They can see everything that we do, which is cool.”
That’s available for a flat fee. Her dance classes have become more flexible.
“I am not requiring students to pay, it is a pay as you can situation. They should not pay their full tuition amount because the situation is changed. On the flip side, we are a small business and we need funds to operate,” Magnall said. “We will make it work. ... Right now it is a whole lot of having faith that this will all work out somehow.”
That dance recital? It was supposed to be May 9. Students are still working on it, but it is not clear when that performance might be. That’s something new for a teacher who has been in the business, in one form or another, for 16 years.
“I’ve had to postpone recitals for things like snow, for like a week, but nothing like this,” Magnall said. “... This hit us at the worst possible time. We are a month and half from our biggest performance. Everyone has learned all their choreography. … From an artist’s perspective, I had gotten my painting done and was ready to put on the finishing touches and now I have to let someone else finish it from a distance. That is kind of crazy.”