Dance and yoga studios want to reopen now. Their message to the city: ‘We are not gyms’

Dance, hula, yoga studios: “We are not gyms”

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The permanent closure of a small Honolulu ballet school has shaken the dance community, and has many worrying that other studios could follow.

It’s also prompting dance, hula and yoga studios to ask the city to allow them to reopen immediately.

Gyms and fitness centers will be able to reopen on Oahu on June 19. The city clarified to Hawaii News Now on Thursday that that category includes dance and yoga studios.

Kumu hula Vicky Holt Takamine of Pua Ali’i 'Ilima, who has been teaching from her Kalihi halau on Zoom, called that “ridiculous.”

“We are not the ones that are risking our residents and our families. We are taking precautions. We know who our people are,” said Takamine.

"We are not a fitness center. We are not a gym. We don't share equipment," she added.

She says dancers and yoga enthusiasts use their own implements and equipment. They also say practicing social distancing through dance comes naturally.

The closure has hit studios hard, and left some on the brink of closure.

One of the first victims of the lockdown: Alive Ballet Academy, which has been in McCully for 12 years with 45 students and many teachers.

Its owner is stuck on the mainland and recently announced to families that the studio is closing permanently because it couldn’t survive the financial toll.

The school had been getting ready for an upcoming performance before the shutdown nearly three months ago, but now a dance mom is helping to pack the tutus and pointed shoes.

"It's just sad," said a volunteer dance mom.

The dance community is frustrated, saying studios have been off the government’s radar.

"We fell through the cracks. We weren't even in the bag so at this point. We'll take what we can get to be able to open," said Peter Rockford Espiritu, founder of Tau Dance Theater.

He says the closure of a fellow studio is a hard hit and worries others may be next.

“It’s devastating,” said Epiritu. “To see one of my sisters, one my family, one my ohana, my dance ohana to lose their house."

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.