Dance classes are not only a commitment for dancers, they’re also a commitment for the dancers’ families, both in terms of time and money. And, for those who take classes at Durango Dance in Durango but who live outside town, that time commitment can take a toll, especially when families are trying to juggle different school schedules on top of extracurricular activities.
Not so much anymore.
For dance families in Mancos and points west, Durango Dance has come up with a way to make the commute to class a little easier with the addition of a new studio in Mancos.
Durango Dance owner Miriam Morgan noticed the need for a change in classes when she noticed a drop in the number of Mancos families enrolling in classes in Durango.
“I realized that they’d changed the school schedule and that made it a little trickier for families to be able to make it to Durango. A lot of our classes were starting around the time that class got out, so there was no way for them to make it in town,” she said. “And of course ... once winter hits for people to be able to make it for later classes – I know I would get nervous driving to Mancos late at night.”
So with that in mind, Morgan, along with Amanda McKovich, Durango Dance’s Elevé youth program director, launched the Mancos studio in the Mancos Community Center, with classes being taught by Vivien Doucette.
Morgan said the response has been positive.
“It’s been great,” she said. “I’ve actually heard from a lot of people from Cortez and Dolores, as well. That wasn’t something that I had necessarily been thinking of, I was just thinking of our families from Mancos. But they also have similar school schedules and we’re all used to driving around to get to things we really want to get to, so for them, getting to Mancos is a lot easier than coming to Durango.”
For now, the Mancos studio offers three classes and has room for 30 students, with plans to expand, Morgan said, adding that the studios in Mancos and Durango follow the local school districts’ COVID-19 protocols, which means masks are required in Durango and encouraged in Mancos.
“We’re starting with just the 4- to 10-year-olds, so keeping it kind of in that little niche to get started,” she said. “We are hoping to eventually branch out to add some tap and other things.”
Along with making classes more convenient, Durango Dance has also stepped up to include proper dance attire in class tuition, helping relieve parents of the burden of the yearly pink tights/leotards/footwear scavenger hunt, which, if you’ve ever tried in Durango, can be quite the feat. The school is also expanding its uniform options to be more inclusive, Morgan said.
For more information and to register for Durango Dance’s classes in Mancos and Durango, visit https://bit.ly/38UzwtL.
“I’m a mom of three and my oldest two kids are Native American, so part of having inclusive attire is also realizing that dance attire historically has been really elitist as far as making sure it’s for skin tones that are white European skin tones. And not all of our kids in this area look like that or the world, look like that,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that we kind of took that burden off families. We were going to find the shoes that would match the skin tone because that’s something that has always been hard for people of color to find.”
And for Morgan, dance and the arts in general are an important way for children – and adults – to help cope with life and express themselves.
“I think that the arts are important in general for us to be able to express ourselves, especially for kids’ mental health. I know for myself growing up, dance was always that safe space,” she said. “Dance gives people the chance to talk through things that, things like COVID – there are so many physical things going on in people’s bodies that they can’t control. But they have control in the dance studio. And they’re able to express themselves in a way that words can’t always say.”