The owner feels the brunt of the decision to close the academy, but knows Iit’s the right decision
By Darren Lum
It’s hard to say goodbye to the one you love.
Haliburton Dance Academy owner Chyna Schell is still making the decision to close the place that felt like a ‘second home’ for her dancers, but said it was a decision that prioritized his family.
“Because I remember that’s what I got the most out of, it’s just being able to [for dancers] say it was my second family and it was my second home and be as comfortable under the roof of the studio as at home and [that’s] which is most important,” she said.
Schell said it was with a heavy heart that she had to make the “hardest decision I’ve ever had to make”.
The show will not continue, so she invites the public to see the end-of-year recital to close the final chapter of the dance studio, which has been a home and creative space of art and growth for generations of dancers.
Held over three days at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion, the recitals are scheduled for June 17 at 7 p.m., June 18 at 10 a.m., with a solo showcase at 2 p.m., then 7 p.m., and June 19 at 11 a.m. am Buy tickets online at onstagedirect.com and search for Haliburton Dance Academy. Following the Academy’s final recital scheduled for June 17-19 (show time), the school will close and permanently turn off the lights.
“It has been a rollercoaster of emotions for the woman, who has held every role even before taking over the business as owner and operator at age 23 in 2012 from Terri Mathews who started the studio as Dance. Co. in 1996. Schell was a dancer. , dance assistant, dance camp counselor and competitive dancer. Schell said it felt so natural to take over from Mathews. She credits him for giving the company a solid foundation, which led to its own success.
“It was built before I took over in 2012,” she said.
It is no exaggeration that this academy was his life.
“It’s a big passion project. The least we can say is that I’m obsessed with it. The children are my family. The parents are my family. I know everyone individually and have a unique relationship with everyone and there’s a lot of heartbreak there. It’s really sad for me. I will miss everyone, exponentially. I’m really sad but at the same time I’m also excited for my family which is my main priority and has to come first and the studio was getting to the point where it was alienating me from them to a degree that I was more comfortable. So I’m excited about this new chapter for my family, what it will look like for my children, the care I will have for them and the energy I will have for them. That’s just it. It’s a lot,” she said.
Added to the decision are the financial difficulties the school is facing, which come from running a dance school with the constraints of health measures imposed by the provincial government during the pandemic for nearly two years. She said it wasn’t about the fight inside her to do the work to solve the financial problems, but coupled with the financial problems were the added demands of raising two young children, nine-year-old Olly Williams , and Jude, six years old and the arrival of her third child born in December 2021.
“I feel like that was kind of my sign, saying ok, we put you in a financial situation that you were really going to struggle with and, if you need an extra push, here it is and you have no choice now,” she said.
Her third child, Mabel, was born with a “serious condition of HIE” or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, a very serious type of infant brain damage that occurs during childbirth when the baby’s brain is deprived of blood and oxygen. oxygen.
“Now she’s doing great, but there’s a risk of cerebral palsy in her future needs, or needs that she might need special attention for, and I’m not showing any of that negativity for her, but I also want to make sure I’ve positioned myself to be able to take on the role of full time babysitter, if that’s what it’s all about… she’s doing great, but I’d just hate not to be available for her, if she needs more,” she said.
This dance studio has always been more than her, she says.
She still remembers seeing 10 parents volunteering their time to help drywall at her current location on Industrial Park Road in Haliburton.
“I know this is a community project. It’s not just a one man show, or a one woman show, because it’s always run out of gratitude for our community and although it’s a small business, it’s truly fueled by love and family dynamics,” she said.
She adds that in the heart of her last 10 years, she rested with the support of the community.
Schell said the school has always been about children.
“Literally an image of them comes to mind…just them as a whole. Their energy. Their laughs… Their jokes. Their nerves offstage. Their nerves to get on stage. Their enthusiasm. All. They are worth going to every night,” she said.
Schell said she waited until now to make the announcement out of respect for her dancers, who she said might have resented her for completing the year of instruction to earn money. .
The sale of the company has not been ruled out, but for the moment the few opportunities have not materialized for various reasons. In general, part of the consideration for any business transfer is its respect for the academy’s 26-year history and the way it has always been grassroots, family-owned. She also wanted to ensure the same high standard of instruction that she had taken over from her predecessor. Even with its connections in and around the county, it has been difficult to recruit qualified instructors to maintain the excellence its dancers deserve.
The year before COVID, the school had 150 dancers, which does not include dancers signed up for weekly classes and drop-ins. There are nine instructors at the academy.
When it comes to highlights, there isn’t one class, group, or performance that stands out for the business owner, who is married. It’s about the sparkle of feeling each year’s fresh start that she’ll always remember.
“If anything, the most specific I can get is just that moment in September where you come back and they can see what they’re doing this year and they can see what you’ve been thinking about over the summer in when it comes to the choreography and the music and the costumes, and their enthusiasm and their excitement to come back to them and just seeing their ability to see what you see in your mind is really cool when they come back and they’re just as excited that you [be created],” she says.
She laments not being able to give her own children the opportunity to dance and learn from her, but knows in her heart that she is making the right decision. It was his hope to see the next generation graduate.
“There are kids I know who teach who I grew up dancing with their parents and it’s so cool… the dream was that I would see them graduate, but unfortunately it just doesn’t work out just not right now,” she said.