PBD continues to adapt as the mandates and regulations from the Governor’s office rollout due to the pandemic. Introducing, “Blacktop Ballroom”! The studio was closed for business as all indoor activities were put on hold, but outdoor activities were able to continue with social distancing and masks present.

Students and families of PBD agreed to keep the fun going by holding team practices outside for one practice a week and going virtual for the other practice, with exception of Youth Premier that held two of their three weekly practices outside. Rain or…no rain, the dancers have been making the best of their team experience by bundling up, embracing the cold, Washington, winter weather, and working so hard that some students are even seen shedding layers by the middle of the practice! The teams continued to learn new choreography for the spring concert and medleys with the challenge of dancing in sneakers instead of dance shoes and dealing with pavement instead of a ballroom floor. Parents kindly donated pop-up cover tents that can be set up and danced under when the rain is at its worst.

Youth dancer, Carson Ricks stated his challenges with Blacktop Ballroom. ” I think the most challenging thing for me was the ground and the shoes. It really limited movement, and puddles and such made it difficult to use the full space”, said Ricks. However, Ricks also stated that the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to this new experience. “Having played soccer for 11 years before I joined dance I realized how much I miss practicing outside in the fresh air. It personally helps me clear my mind and I could actually focus better outside because of that”.

Abigail Greisen, another member of our PBD Youth team shares her experience as well. “It gets pretty cold out”, she says, “but once we’ve been dancing for a while it’s not bad. I think it’s worth dancing outside to be able to dance in person with a partner. It gives us a way to follow COVID guidelines without having to learn virtually.” Most of our PBD dancers spend the majority of their day with virtual learning through their schools so the opportunity to still socially interact with their teams, while being socially distant and following COVID guidelines is a major win.

Preteen dancer, Liya Hale agrees with the other students. “I like blacktop dancing because I get to be with my team and get to dance with a partner. I’d prefer studio dancing because there is more room for dancing, but overall I like blacktop better than zoom because I actually get to be involved with my team”, says Hale.

Despite the struggles, PBD students continue to rise above their challenges and continue to excel. Instructor, Landon Anderson states that the kids are “joyful and positive” about the whole experience. “I personally am not surprised that the kids are responding with a great attitude to not having the ideal flooring and being indoors. I think they are just grateful for what they do have: to still be dancing, seeing their friends, and getting exercise.”

Blacktop and the creativity behind PBD’s current hybrid in-person/virtual dance program would not be possible without the many creatives and wonderful PBD staff that were determined to give the dancers what they desired most–a team experience. Most importantly, Blacktop would not be successful without the many PBD families and parents who trusted the vision and were ready to try anything to stay safe but still allow their children to dance. Blacktop Ballroom and our hybrid dance program will continue until we are allowed back in the studio for Phase 2.