A Dancer During COVID-19


Ashlee Elliott stands with her two friends, Angel Barkalow and Emrys Yamanishi, after their 2019 performance of the Nutcracker.

Jaegen Becthold

Ashlee Elliott stands with her two friends, Angel Barkalow and Emrys Yamanishi, after their 2019 performance of the Nutcracker.

Lacing up her black tap shoes and tying them into a bow, she gets ready for tap class. The metal bottoms of her shoes make a sound as she walks across the dance floor, click, clack, click, clack. She is wearing some comfy grey sweatpants and a simple T-shirt. Under that she has her tights and a leotard so she is ready for ballet lessons right after tap, and just has to throw on a skirt. Her teacher Ms. Courtney plays fast tempoed music so the dancers can find the beat easier. With her favorite pink mask that has thin straps and allows her to breathe more than the other masks she has, Ashlee Elliott is ready for class. 

Elliott, a junior at Mount Vernon High School, has been dancing since she was four years old at Dance Arts Iowa, the dance studio her grandmother owns. Though things will not be the same this year, Elliott, 16,  is making the best of it. With most summer camps and activities cancelled, “I’m looking forward to getting back to dance again, and seeing all my teachers again,” Elliott said. 

Some of the new guidelines for dancing during the pandemic are impacting how the dance classes run. Everyone will wear a mask for the duration of class, thus leading to people needing more breaks for heat. Dancing with masks could be the most challenging thing during the classes, especially with the little kids.

COVID-19 has caused changes in performances and venues. Elliott said that she will miss not going out to eat with everyone and not being able to perform the Nutcracker this year. Sadly, Dance Arts Iowa also lost some teachers who will not be coming back, though Elliott will be regaining a former teacher to the studio.

Elliott’s April recital was cancelled, but she will be working toward a December recital, a group performance with the occasional solo. Not knowing whether the performance will only be for parents or if it will be virtual for the whole audience Elliott is “a little excited for it.” ”I think they did a pretty good job considering everything,” Elliott said. 

During this different time everyone could use a little motivation. “Don’t quit if COVID is getting in the way, don’t make COVID the reason why you quit dance… just do your best even though it might be more difficult with a mask on,” Elliott said.