CT Checkup: Young dancers at Meriden studio excited for first in-person recital since start of pandemic

New Haven

MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Summer camp is in session for a Meriden dance studio whose dancers are finally gearing up for an in-person recital in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Miss Chantel’s Star Dance Academy has been open for three weeks following months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. And of course, there are some changes. 

“We have a check-in right when you come in, you get your forehead temperature done, then you have to have hand sanitizer,” explained studio owner Chantel Martin. 

The theme is ‘survivor camp’, a week filled with activities reinforcing the power of perseverance and teamwork. 

Other changes include six-foot markers on the dance room floor and even an additional, makeshift studio around back to allow for proper social distancing. 

“Parents are very happy that their kids are able to come back and do something,” Martin said. “They miss the normalcy, they miss socializing with their friends and having that regular routine that they are used to.” 

Each session has 10 campers at a time, with activities like obstacle courses, acrobatics, scavenger hunts, and team-building exercises. 

“It’s so nice to see them not through zoom,” said Qusie Perez, a dance teacher at the studio. “You get those smiles, the energy. It’s just a totally different experience and they’re so excited to be back as well.” 

In addition to camps and classes resuming, the studio will also be holding its recital, which had to be postponed due to the pandemic. 

Now, it will take place on an outdoor stage at Hubbard Park in Meriden this September, something for which these little dancers are excited. 

“I’m looking forward to trying my best and being supportive of my other friends while I’m backstage,” said 7-year-old Mallory Leavitt. 

And it’s for this reason that Martin knew she had to make the recital happen, even during a pandemic. 

“They earned this,” she said. “And I am doing everything that I can to have this recital so they can shine on stage.” 

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