Many businesses were affected by COVID-19 and the shutdown that ensued. Some are still feeling the weight of the changes that had to take place to open back up again.
Teresa Lorenz is the owner of Lorenz Dance & Tumbling Studio, located in Lino Lakes at 479 Apollo Drive. She has spent more than 45 years of choreographing and teaching dance in the northern suburbs.
Lorenz opened her first studio in 1996, but she began teaching long before that. As a preteen, she began helping at her mother’s studio, Rosann’s School of Dance.
“Right out of high school, I began coaching high school gymnastics at Centennial. I was also teaching for myself, renting out different places until I found the building in Lino Lakes,” Lorenz said.
Lorenz has had a studio in both Lino Lakes and Hugo, but about two years ago she found a larger building in Lino Lakes, so she merged the two studios.
“I could never find a building with enough space. I was literally looking (for) almost 20 years. I jumped on it. It’s been great to have a bigger space at one location,” Lorenz said.
She said she is especially grateful to have the new location this year to help deal with all of the changes that have needed to be made due to COVID-19.
“It’s been a nightmare, to be honest. I can’t be the only one complaining because I know a lot of small businesses are trying to hold it together,” Lorenz said.
Lorenz talked about the struggles she faced as a small business. Classes were unable to happen in the studio and shows were canceled during the state-mandated shutdown in the spring. Lorenz said it was difficult to pay the lease at the time.
“Some of us got help but not everyone qualified for the programs,” Lorenz said.
Lorenz has two sisters that also have their own dance studios in the Twin Cities area, and they faced similar challenges.
“I’m a smaller studio, so I normally have about 250 students. But right now, I’m down about 40 percent,” Lorenz said.
She said a lot of students who compete returned, as well as those who had been coming for years, but she didn’t get as many new people as she typically would in a normal year.
Lorenz gets students from Lino Lakes, Blaine, Centerville, Forest Lake, Hugo and New Brighton. Classes take place five nights a week, beginning soon after school gets out. She teaches dance to students ages 3 to 18 and also offers tumbling classes.
Lorenz shared that they had held some practices outdoors at Lino Park. Once restrictions were lifted, she said some students were able to partake in two competitions, both with many restrictions.
“Practices outside saved us so we could continue to stay in shape and be ready with our routines,” Lorenz said.
Now classes are happening back in the studio, but several changes had to be implemented.
“We’re taking all of the precautions. We’re wearing masks and social distancing the best we can. We also disinfect between each class,” Lorenz said.
Lorenz said they are taking new students through October. Anyone who wants more information can visit the studio’s new website at lorenzdancetumblingstudio.com
Carol Anderson, longtime instructor and owner of 4th Street Dance in White Bear Lake, has faced similar challenges. Anderson is in her 37th year of ownership and has never had to face the challenges she has with COVID-19.
The studio shut down in March, along with much of the state.
“We Zoomed all of our classes and had a recital over Zoom where the kids got dressed up and invited their grandparents to watch. We did our best to make it fun,” Anderson said.
Classes just recently started up again when the new school year began. Of course, several changes had to take place first.
“The classrooms are all marked with 6-foot squares so kids can stay in their areas. No parents are allowed in the studio for kids over the age of 7. Every classroom is cleaned and sanitized between each dance class,” Anderson said.
Masks also need to be worn in the lobby area and in the classrooms.
To reopen was a heavy cost. Anderson shared that it cost about $10,000 just to be able to operate again.
“Every room had to be outfitted with an air purifier. That’s not free. An additional outdoor covered area had to be provided for kids waiting outside for a ride. An in-studio monitor to make sure kids are following social distancing in the hallways and keeping their mask on. We pretty much have a parking lot attendant,” Anderson said.
Numbers are down this year. Anderson thinks it’s because so many students faced canceled shows and competitions last season. She thinks some are waiting to see how the start of this season goes.
“They don’t want their hearts broken again and I feel for them,” Anderson admitted.
Still, Anderson is glad that the studio is open once again. She knows others weren’t so lucky.
“It’s either put up or quit. There was a couple studios that closed their doors,” Anderson said.
“As long as everyone is following the rules, we’re doing just fine. The kids are adapting and parents are being wonderful.”