How we returned to safer celebrations: Oz Reimagined 2020

“Thank you for being a catalyst and leading the HOW to return to safer gatherings!”

The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center shared news of the impact the Academy of Dance Arts’ September performances have already had on the greater Rapid City Community in their Monday meeting with Studio Artistic Director, Julie A. McFarland. According to Theatre Management, “Your thinking outside the box and sticking with us helped other event organizers across the nation to see that there are ways to gather. We are one of the few venues in the nation open for business now.”

After schools closed on March 13 in a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, decisions to close other businesses and City venues followed. The Academy was scheduled to host three 20th-anniversary performances of Over the Rainbow and Munchkinland on May 2, a date then postponed to September.

In addition to hosting a total of 1200 dancers, family members and friends across sixteen micro group performance seatings held September 15-19, the Academy and the Civic Center management worked on solutions to limit the number of people in the theatre to 4% of capacity, implement a one-way traffic flow in the building, staggered arrival times, kept physical distancing, and enhanced sanitization protocols. “Dance lessons bring life lessons, and what better way to show our children rewards of resilience and determination than this?” said McFarland. “For us, quitting was not an option.”

The dancers, Academy faculty and administration team dove back into their interrupted year with a goal of healthy celebration and closure for school children. A “Red Carpet Runway” experience, dis-danced stage performances that extended family members joined via video chat, and bonus parting gifts were part of the fall joy. “It wasn’t what any of us envisioned when we began planning the season last year, but sometimes the unintended gift of adversity can be to help us find even better ways of doing what we love to do,” shared McFarland. The Academy navigated the performance week with zero reported cases of COVID-19 transmission.

Seeing the joy on dancer’s faces and hearing families share their gratitude for the Academy A-team’s efforts made the journey complete. We pushed pause on some of our loftier goals this season, but never on our dreams. And in a land-of-Oz journey, we discovered that we can be a place where the dreams that we dare to dream together really do come true!

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