FARGO — As anticipation built from dancers and their families throughout months of quarantine, Red River Dance & Performing Company in Fargo announced earlier this month that it would begin holding in-person classes again.

“I heard through the grapevine that there were even some parents sitting right at 9 o’clock when registration opened making sure they could get signed up,” Executive Director Caitlin Killoran says.

Open registration originally scheduled to take place in April was pushed back to give the studio time to develop a comprehensive list of restart policies and procedures, complying with Gov. Doug Burgum’s ND Smart Restart guidelines. There was an overwhelming response as classes began to fill, even including some of the more advanced classes.

For an entire generation of young dancers, the opening represents more than just another summer of courses and camp — it’s the return to a second home. While the COVID-19 global pandemic has kept Killoran and her staff from students since March, she continues to feel the connection, saying, “I love what dancers can share through their movements.”

"I feel confident that we can continue to enjoy the arts despite the COVID-19 pandemic. We just need to do it a little differently right now," says Kara Johnson, a medical doctor whose girls have been with Red River Dance for the past eight years.

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Red River Dance & Performing Company is a nonprofit studio that offers classes to a wide range of ages and includes classes like ballet, jazz, tap and more. Special to The Forum
Red River Dance & Performing Company is a nonprofit studio that offers classes to a wide range of ages and includes classes like ballet, jazz, tap and more. Special to The Forum

Some of the differences come in the form of limited class sizes, one-way traffic through the building and sanitizing hands immediately upon entering the studio. Dancers must be ready upon arrival with no changing permitted for any reason, as well as other detailed plans outlined on redriverdance.com.

But even with all the changes, many students simply look forward to the simple joys of dance.

"I can't want to get back to the studio to challenge myself both physically and mentally; seeing my fellow dancers and instructors will be an added bonus, of course,” company member Bella Dukart says.

As they move ahead with dance in the studio, the company will also continue a series of online classes to stay connected with new audiences from all over the world.

"We even have a viewer from Brazil who consistently tunes in and participates,” says Alexis Syverson, the program director. “Even when the entire world is going through a crisis, it’s so cool that dance can unite people and bring such joy.”

Summer sessions with Red River Dance & Performing Company begin on the first of June, with a second session in July. Special to The Forum
Summer sessions with Red River Dance & Performing Company begin on the first of June, with a second session in July. Special to The Forum

Registration for classes is now open at redriverdance.com with two summer sessions starting in early June and another in mid-July.

When planning a visit to support community art, be sure to check organizations' websites and social media pages for developments, changes and new policies.

Red River Dance & Performing Company is resuming in-person classes. Special to The Forum
Red River Dance & Performing Company is resuming in-person classes. Special to The Forum

Get involved

Here’s a list of some of the classes and resources available for kids of all ages this summer.

  • Wild escape: The Red River Zoo, 4255 23rd Ave. S., Fargo, is open and offering summer day camps, including outdoor adventures, crafts, animal-themed games and encounters with real-life creatures. Day camps run June 8 through August 10. Visit redriverzoo.org for more information.
  • Independent exploration: The Creative Plains Foundation offers live art classes on Facebook at 2 p.m. Tuesdays, as well as a series of free activity workbooks designed to be self-directed. Their creative mix of simple prompts and questions make it easy to flip through from one activity to another. Find the workbooks and much more at creativeplains.org.
  • Words come alive: The second-annual teen creative writing camp sponsored by North Dakota State University and the Red River Valley Writing Project is set to be hosted online. High school students will explore genres in each day of the camp from fiction to poetry, creative nonfiction, script writing and cartooning. Camp fees cover all materials and a T-shirt. To sign up for the class, email Jamee Larson at jamee.larson@ndsu.edu.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.

Opening in compliance with ND Smart Restart policies, Red River Dance & Performing Company began offering in-person classes again last week after two months of being closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Special to The Forum
Opening in compliance with ND Smart Restart policies, Red River Dance & Performing Company began offering in-person classes again last week after two months of being closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Special to The Forum