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Upcoming recital marks Alton Dance Academy's 15th anniversary



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As the Alton Dance Academy (ADA) approaches its annual recital, which had to be postponed from June to August because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the studio is also celebrating 15 years in Alton. The show, "A Frozen Tale," follows the story told in the movie "Frozen." (Photo by Katherine Lesnyk) (click for larger version)
August 13, 2020
ALTON — As the Alton Dance Academy (ADA) approaches its annual recital, which had to be postponed from June to August because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the studio is also celebrating 15 years in Alton.

The 2020 recital is being held on Aug. 13 and 14 at Prospect Mountain High School. Artistic director and instructor Ashley Dowling said that, even though it was challenging to prepare for the show so that it followed pandemic-related guidelines, she couldn't tell the high school seniors, many of whom have been at ADA since they were in early elementary school, that their final recital was not happening.

"There was no way I was going to not try," she said.

The show, "A Frozen Tale," follows the story told in the movie "Frozen," which Dowling said fit perfectly, given the quarantine necessitated by the pandemic.

"It's literally about a girl who's in isolation," she said of the show.

ADA held classes remotely from mid-March until two weeks before the show, utilizing YouTube and other online mediums to keep practicing from home. When the dancers and instructors returned to the studio, they followed all health guidelines including social distancing and wearing face masks. The shows will be split into five smaller performances rather than the usual three large performances as another method of ensuring social distancing for crowds as well as the participants.

"I definitely didn't think my 15th year would be my hardest year," Dowling said.

The challenges endured this year did pay off though, not just through reaching the "A Frozen Tale" recital," but also because the dance studio was recognized on Aug. 12 in the "Best of the Lakes Region" series as the best dance studio.

In the last 15 years, the dance academy has experienced quite a bit of positive change – the studio expanded 2,000 square feet by moving to the current location at 7B School Street, the ADA store expanded, the number of students more than doubled, new styles of dance and fitness classes were added, and nine years ago ADA became affiliated with the National Honor Society for Dance Arts.

Dowling emphasized the lasting connections that the dancers develop at ADA, not only to each other, but also to the art of dance.

"It doesn't end when we leave the dance studio," she said.

As ADA continues to bring dance into the community, Dowling said she hopes to "teach [the students] more about the history" behind the types of dance that they learn. As an advocate for the arts, she also wants to continue to show that the dancers are "receiving more than just a dance class" when they choose to take classes.

"It's been amazing," Dowling said. "I can't believe I'm in this position."

Registration for fall classes is on Aug. 15 at Alton Dance Academy.

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