‘This is really happening for them’: Local dance studio gets to perform for first time since lockdown
By Michelle Levine
With pandemic restrictions lifted, families and friends huddled under a party tent to avoid rain showers in Driskell Park (formerly Magruder Park) on June 13 as dancers from Adagio Dance Studio were getting ready to take the stage for the first time in 15 months.
Waiting out the rain was well worth it to see “Bloom,” Adagio’s spring recital, said Sherece Bryan, mother of 6-year-old Ariyana.
“It was so beautiful to see how it all came together,” Bryan said. “And the girls had so much fun.”
After a 30-minute rain delay, the sun came out, and the youngest dancers from Adagio danced to the “Frozen” soundtrack in front of an eager crowd. The recital was livestreamed on the studio’s website for those unable to attend in person.
Company founder and director Christina Green said that it was rewarding to see the dancers finally get the chance to perform.
“When they walked out in the purple [leotards], it was just tears in my eyes. Like this is really happening for them,” Green said. “It was a great feeling.”
Green started Adagio Dance in 2010 in Cheverly and moved it to Hyattsville in July 2019. When the pandemic hit, Green said she was determined to continue teaching.
“There is no such thing as a break. If the world has shut down, that’s fine, I can dance at home,” she said. “I’m always dancing, because it’s a part of who I am.”
Green spent the first few weeks of the pandemic recording classes for her students to watch. She then moved on to teaching virtual group classes via Zoom. She decided to offer in-person classes outdoors as soon as state restrictions were lifted last summer.
“I just knew this community would embrace it. And they did,” she said.
Practices are held outdoors on Saturday mornings in Driskell Park, and now inside, as well, on Tuesday nights at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier. At Joe’s, participants have their temperatures taken at the door, and both students and staff keep their masks for the session. Dancers also have the option to participate virtually.
According to Bryan, Ariyana was excited for the move to in-person sessions since all her other activities were only available virtually.
“They miss that interaction, but Adagio was able to at least provide some interaction for them,” said Bryan.
Fellow dance mom Jamila Larson said Green’s creativity in finding a way to safely gather during the pandemic has been incredibly helpful for her daughter.
The consistency of weekly practices has given Larson’s daughter, Violet, something to look forward to after months at home with her family, explained Larson.
“She has the chance to learn a new skill, and it gives her a chance to safely socialize with her peers in the class,” she said. “Those efforts to restore a sense of community can’t be underestimated.”
Green has been impressed with the sense of community in Hyattsville and said it is something she has never experienced before.
“We’re all working together to get through this difficult time,” Green explained. “I love it here, and I don’t think we’re going to relocate anytime soon.”
Green said that dance creates community, too: “We’re all different. We all look different. But we’re here with the common purpose of dance.”
Surprisingly, Adagio’s enrollment numbers have increased over the past year.
Last year, Green had 13 students in her Hyattsville studio. Fifteen months and a global pandemic later, that number has quintupled. There are 65 dancers enrolled for this summer’s semester, which began with practices in Driskell Park on June 19.
The growth of Adagio has not gone unnoticed by parents.
“I can’t think of another business model that’s actually growing during COVID. Especially when your business model is in-person with kids,” Larson said.
The skills taught by Green and her team have proven to have lasting effects. Sumyyah Butler, 14, started dancing at Adagio when she was just three years old.
Sumyyah spoke at the June 13 recital before performing with the Adagio ensemble, a group of four experienced dancers. She credited a lot of her success to Green: “Not only is she my dance coach, but also my life coach.”
Of Sumyyah, Green said, “I really see her going professional.”
Watching Sumyyah and the rest of Adagio’s students get to perform was a surreal experience, according to Green.
“That performance was like our ground zero. You know this is what we can do when the world shuts down,” she said. “Now let’s see what we can do now that the world is opening back up.”
Michelle Levine is an intern with the Hyattsville Life & Times.