Westland dance studio struggling to stay open amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 6:23 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 18:23:21-04

WESTLAND, Mich. (WXYZ) — There are many businesses still struggling to stay open amid the pandemic.

Gyms and fitness centers have not been able to welcome back staff and customers because of the shutdown.

A dance studio owner in Westland wants to reopen her doors safely as soon as possible.

Ambert Gilbert of the Dance Academy is asking Governor Gretchen Whitmer to ungroup dance studios with gyms.

“Look at dance studios as an individual small business and take it case-by-case,” Gilbert said.

The Dance Academy sits on the lower level of the Westland Shopping Center. The mall is open but the studio is not.

They shut down in March and have not been able to open back up for group classes.

“Struggling not to let our business go out of business," Gilbert said.

The Dance Academy has been offering private one on one lessons during the shutdown. But it’s not enough.

Gilbert has had to get a second job to provide for her family.

“I deliver groceries now because we have no income from the studio.”

Amber says they should be able open at least at 30 percent capacity.

She created an example with a few students to show us what to expect.

They have safety regulations in place, like temperature checks at the door, hand sanitizer, masks will be required and there are spots taped off to ensure social distancing.

The chairs in the lobby are spaced out as well.

Other than door knobs and ballet bars, there are very little surfaces that can be touched.

Gilbert says with a set schedule they will know exactly who is in to class.

“We know when they are coming and when they are going which is contrary to the gym model.”

Kimberly Vankerckhove is the mother of a dance student.

“It’s hard because she loves dance. She’s here, this is her second home,” she said.

Kimberly’s daughter Madison has been dancing for eight years.

She feels it is safe to return to the studio under these new measures.

They are hoping the business won’t close for good.

She added, “We would be devastated.”

Gilbert says she is three months behind on rent and since March, the Dance Academy has lost more than $150,000.

“I’ve applied for every grants and loans that has come across as available and I’ve only gotten a few small ones that has basically been carrying out basic bills,” she said.

The new dance season kicks off in September but it’s unclear what the future holds.

“I’m just struggling to stay open.”

7 Action News reached out to Governor Whitmer for a comment. We are waiting to hear back.

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