Local dance studio goes all out to hold memorable recital during pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- From teens going hard on hip hop to the delicate dance of teeny ballerinas, The Dance Studio of Fresno continued its tradition of an annual recital without hardly skipping a beat, even during the pandemic.

Owner Sue Sampson-Dalena turned her studio inside out, installing four professional stages that make the parking lot look like the grounds of a music festival. All with the help and support of her students' families.

"I'm just very blessed," she said. "I have the most amazing collection of educators that work for me, my front office that's just magical and of course, the parents who continued to support their students' desire to want to dance. I'm so grateful to all of those families."

During the initial shut-down in Spring, the dancers learned from videos and attended classes and rehearsals on Zoom.

Then in September, Sampson-Dalena called on local production company, Live Light, to supply four elevated stages and on one of the hottest days of the year, the dance dads volunteered to build them. A true labor of love for their children.

"Our kids work so hard dancing six days a week, practicing hard," says Randy Ward. "When we see how much they put into it, for the enjoyment of today, this week, the accomplishment of it, it's worth it."

Dance moms, only nice ones here, were happy to retain some "normal" part of their kids' lives.

"It's so beautiful to see them finally on stage doing what they love, it gives me chills," says Kristen Klein.

The studio implemented strict health and safety protocols, requiring masks on everyone, cleaning the stage and sanitizing dancers' hands between performances.

Families were allowed two people per household, per 'sectioned square' in the audience for distancing.

Even six feet apart, this close-knit dance family didn't let the pandemic shut down the show.

"It's been very fun and I think it's going to be a very memorable year," says Brooklyn Klein.

As the saying goes, "the show must go on" and the dancers will once again hit this stage in December to take part in an international virtual dance festival with the Dance Studio of Fresno, representing the Central Valley.
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