Dance studio looks to the post-coronavirus future | News, Sports, Jobs

For a dance studio run by husband and wife duo Duane Gordner, middle, and Kellie Shaner-Gordner, right, the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge “unlike anything we’ve ever known.” (Photo by Lauren Fox)

HUGHESVILLE, Penn. – Almost 30 years ago, Kellie Shaner-Gordner and Duane Gordner taught dance lessons to a handful of children in Hughesville, Pa. From their church basement.

Today, the couple have built a base of around 300 students and opened two studios, but they are worried about the negative consequences the COVID-19 pandemic could inflict on their business, D&K’s Studio of Dance.

Shaner-Gordner said the challenges their business faces are “unlike anything we have known.”

“It’s hard for me to remember all the difficult years when we had just started our business”, she said. Since, “We had a really wonderful race.

And they plan to continue.

Gordner’s dream was to operate a dance studio. He accepted a job in a factory after graduating from high school, but began taking parallel dance lessons and soon found that his real passion was practicing and teaching dance.

Shaner-Gordner went to high school with Gordner and later became his wife after deepening their relationship through their religious community. She shares her husband’s passion for the studio and said that while they might be in a more financially stable position during this pandemic if she pursues a different job, she does not regret their joint venture.

“We really enjoyed doing it together all this time”, she said, “And I think it’s a unique thing because we understand each other. We can share all our joys.

Shaner-Gordner’s father built the couple’s first dance studio. It is attached to their home, a fitting symbol for the place the business holds in their hearts.

After the coronavirus outbreak forced the couple to close their studio, they began offering online classes using Zoom. But Shaner-Gordner said when she recently finished a youth dance class, she was sad.

“I felt sad because part of what these dancers need from us at this age is for us to listen to their stories.” and be silly with them, she said. “Even though I could see their adorable little faces… it was a very different format. So I felt sad afterwards.

Gordner said he missed feeling the energy in the dance studio.

“You tap into their energy” he said. “You feed on it. So it’s hard not to feel that way from them.

15-year-old Libby Welliver has been attending D&K Dance Studio since she was three. She said it was a “huge disappointment” that she can’t go to the studio after school anymore.

“It’s definitely like an outlet for me after school” she said. “I definitely developed it as a safe place to always have.”

Libby’s mother Amy Welliver said Gordner and Shaner-Gordner listened to their students, noting that Shaner-Gordner contacted her daily after her father’s recent death, and that Gordner would check on Libby if she seemed off during a lesson.

She saw how happy her daughter was to interact with the couple virtually during a recent online class.

“We knew we would miss them” she said. “I didn’t know how many.”

Gordner and Shaner-Gordner have continued to offer classes to their students during the stay-at-home order statewide, and they do so for free.

“I don’t want to add further hardship to other families who may be in the same boat as Duane and me,” Shaner-Gordner said.

Gordner added that they feel “It’s something we’re supposed to do.”

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