The show must go on!

Unique One of A Kind Ballroom Dresses by Zhanna Kens

It feels as if it is something straight out of a movie. A fast spreading disease has people locked inside, armoring up with face masks and sanitizers to protect themselves and their loved ones. COVID-19, the respiratory disease that stop the whole world, has impacted all of us and infected our daily way of life.

Stadiums that used to be so vibrant with cheers have been silenced and replaced with cardboard cut outs of fans. Looked forward to Tampa Bay area concerts have either be postponed or canceled for safety of others. From the sports enthusiast to the lovers of art we each experienced a shift of the world’s axis.

Dancers, people who enjoy coming together with others to create beautiful stories of passion, are one’s affected by pandemic. Dance Studios across the Tampa Bay experience temporary closures or a large decrease of people showing up for lessons. Most dancers search for the similar high the once had when they first stepped on the dance floor. When dancers do finally find a chance to congregate and make magic through their steps and twists it is wondrous.

Due to COVID-19, a lot of us had to give up or alternate our favorite hobbies to make it safe.

Mandaly Louis-Charles, a ballroom dancer for Dance Passion, details in that to stop dancing and to see the world slowly shut down was a time she “hoped we wouldn’t go back to again.” Not only was dance an outlet of energy and stress release but it also brought people together and created strong friendships.

Attempts were made to continue the art, online zoom meetings were done to keep dancers practicing and to also see their fellow students again, however, nothing compared to the amazing feeling of dancing the night away in the physical.

Finally, after three months of either no dancing or dancing through zoom calls, ballroom dance studios started to open back up but  with safety precautions. There could only be a limited amount of people in a dance studio at a time with one teacher and mask had to be worn at all times. Adjusting to the new norm was difficult, masks were hard to breath in while dancing in a fast pace and it nearly didn’t feel the same for some. For others such as Mandaly the feeling of going back to the studio was “wonderful.”

Soon enough the first match since COVID-19 took place. Instead of a large dance competition it was a small one comprised of local ballroom dance studios across town. These dance studios came together for the Red, White, and Blue Mini Match, a friendly dance competition in a non-stressful environment. Even though the competition was all in good fun and safety precautions were taken Mandaly, a competitor in the match, was still nervous to compete. “I was very nervous like a wreck but after the first couple of dances I made up my mind to enjoy it.” It was difficult to not enjoy the mini dance match especially with all the flowing dresses shift around on the dance floor and the welcoming air that allowed dancers to relax a little bit. The mini match brought the feeling at things were almost back to normal.

Mandaly was a competitor in the Red White and Blue Mini Match and she gave a lot of thought on what she would wear. She knew that presentation was important to the judges and that she also wanted to stand out from the other dancers. She was a part of the blue team so for her dance outfit so chose a gorgeous blue dress to wow the competition with. Before she wore it on the dance floor she went to Zhanna Kens to have her spice it up and give it more beauty.

“The way Zhanna made it, she turned it into a princess dress for me. I put that dress on and I knew I would stand out and I got so many compliments from that dress,” said Mandaly. A ballroom dress by Zhanna Kens succeeded in impressing not only the judges but other dancers as well.

Interestingly enough, there were two parts to this competition that required an outfit change and Mandaly knew from Zhanna’s hand work she could step out onto the dance floor in her most  confident form. The second dress was a Latin theme with a spicy blue skirt and shining jewelry to match, “I was already a 10 with the outfit,” Mandaly proudly stated. To dance again was to feel a part of yourself coming alive after months and because of Zhanna people like Mandaly did so with confidence in their heart.

COVID-19 took a lot from the American people and from people across the globe and it still lurks within our country. The disease may have bared its teeth and made us afraid but we came back at it with confidence and smart thinking. The experience of COVID-19 made us appreciate the freedoms we have right now and the freedoms we hope will slowly come back. Performers may have slowed down and blocked from the dance floor, but they will remain resilient and never stop dancing to their own beat, enjoying what time they have left to twist and turn on their feet.

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By Kinou Louis-Charles