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Dancing through the pandemic

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Dawn's Dance Studio brings innovation and creativity to performing during the pandemic

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - A trailblazer in Yuma's dance scene is not letting this pandemic stop her from bringing performing arts to her students and the entire dance community.

Pliè-ing her way from Yuma to Hollywood and back, Dawn Atherton has made her mark in the dance industry.

For decades, she's taught award-winning dancers, with dozens of trophies and plaques to show for it.

But this year, just as competition season began for her company, Jazz of Yuma (JOY), the pandemic stepped on their toes.

Atherton said, “I’m very surprised that we have trophies and plaques that say 2020. We only went to two out of the four competitions that we were registered for.”

Like many industries, Dawn's Dance Studio went virtual.

Atherton hosted online classes until she was able to reopen in May; implementing social distancing and health guidelines.

However, live performances are still canceled.

As old school as it may sound, Atherton says performances are essential as a dancer.

So, she came up with the idea of a dance movie, realizing her studio once housed a T.V. station, with the perfect set up for a production.

Atherton said, “How fortunate are we that all of the railings already were set up to were I just invested in lights. I bought backdrops and black curtains and we covered this whole thing.”

The only element missing, the audience.

Brother and sister duo Neal and Nadia Moustafa have danced together for years and say the audience gives them energy.

“Usually when we’re live, it helps to hype us up with the audience,” Neal said.

Now, dancers are learning the element of performing on camera.

Atherton is teaching her students how to look into the camera and project energy and emotions; skills she believes are very important in this generation.

Nadia said, “We think of [the audience] watching us, [and] they can still hype us up at home.”

Continuing her innovation, Atherton and JOY are preparing for an October show that will implement social distancing measures by rotating small groups of audiences throughout the several studios they have under one roof.

That’s just a tease, Atherton says to stay tuned for more.

Local News / Yuma County

Aziza Shuler

Aziza Shuler joined KYMA in March 2019 wearing many hats including the newest anchor and producer for FOX 9, as well as a multi-media journalist for KYMA.

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