A ballerina dances en pointe during The Nutcracker practice. Chilliwack dance families say the kids affected by a COVID-19 outbreak are handling the illness well so far, but fear a return to shut downs for dance studios. (Yukon News/ File photo)

A ballerina dances en pointe during The Nutcracker practice. Chilliwack dance families say the kids affected by a COVID-19 outbreak are handling the illness well so far, but fear a return to shut downs for dance studios. (Yukon News/ File photo)

Chilliwack dance parents praise studio owner, speak of importance of dance

No reports so far of serious complications among young dancers hit by COVID-19 outbreak

The kids, it seems, are all right.

That’s what parents of Capella Dance Academy students are saying now, more than two weeks after a news-making COVID-19 outbreak at the studio. Several families connected to the school say they haven’t heard of any serious cases so far among the young dancers. Many have cold and flu symptoms, and there has even been one who had a symptom called COVID toe, in which a toe or several toes turn blue or purple, and peel.

The lack of a serious case brings obvious relief to parents, after major concern for the dancers and the wider community. So far, about three dozen cases link back to Capella.

And while blame has been tossed around toward the owner, parents The Progress has spoken to have nothing but love for her.

“Capella is Capella because of Sarah (Wood),” says Kirsten Backus, who has three children who dance there. “She sets the foundation and her moral compass is exactly where I’d want it to be. Everything she does is for those kids.”

What Wood did was spread the word that COVID-19 had hit the studio. She closed her studio when health officials said she didn’t have to. And even while sick with the coronavirus herself, she has spoken up about lapses in action from Fraser Health.

READ MORE: Fraser Valley singing ensemble overcomes isolation, creates music using digital technology

“I just hope everyone knows that Sarah did everything right,” Backus said. “She really did everything right. She protected those kids.”

Fraser Health seems to agree, and Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin said last week on CBC Radio that transmission among the dancers likely happened not in the studio, but in social times surrounding dance classes such as breaks, or mingling in the parking lot between families. There have even been families having birthday parties, sleepovers and other group events. And of course, kids who dance together socialize together.

But not now. They are all taking the orders to isolate seriously, Backus said.

Nobody wants to go back to the full shutdown the province experienced in March, not even these young dancers. Dancing is a creative outlet, a release of energy, a connection with others, and good for your mental health.

“When we shut down the first time, my oldest daughter was very angry,” Backus said. “You could dance online and you can dance in your bedroom but it’s not the same. And when dance came back … my child was back.”

The shutdown for them was March 13 to June 15.

“It’s a long time, when these kids are used to going every day and connecting with people who make them feel safe. To lose that is really hard.”

READ MORE: COVID-19 exposure event at Chilliwack’s Capella Dance Academy


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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