WAITE PARK -- Ms. Melinda's Dance Studio is offering virtual, instructor-led classes free of charge for dancers of all ages during the stay at home order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the Waite Park studio has offered adult classes in the past, they typically cater to younger students. Owner and instructor Melinda Tamm says they wanted to give parents and any interested adults the chance to receive dance instruction while the order is in effect.

“We’re trying to help keep spirits high,” she said. “Parents are working from home. They’re getting frustrated with their kids. There are so many different frustrations. So, for example, today’s modern dance class includes adults who maybe used to be dancers. We’re doing a family hip-hop class where we’re engaging not only the kids, but the parents.”

The free classes are offered in addition to the studio's regularly scheduled classes, which are only open to existing Ms. Melinda's students. Virtual classes are offered four days a week right now, with six days of classes as the future goal. Tamm says they’ll be offering a range of different dance styles, all taught by the studio’s regular instructors. Classes are free and accessible through a private link, sent to students once the registration process is completed. Tamm says they opted out of using Facebook Live or other public apps in order to limit interference and create a more focused digital classroom environment.

“We want to stay actively engaged with our dance community, but without using those public platforms,” she explained. “When you’re public, it degrades the quality of the interactions.”

Tamm says dancing is about more than just learning steps and moves; they’re meant to engage the mind and help create a sense of well-being.

“It’s a step out of reality for a little bit,” she explained. “Whether in the classroom, or now in the virtual classroom, it’s time for them to focus on one thing. Right now, so many of us are engaging with our computer screens. This is a chance to get our blood flowing and connect our minds with our bodies and getting us to focus on a different aspect of who we are as people.”

Tamm says, in a time when so many people are facing financial uncertainty, the studio wanted to offer families free activities to do together, while keeping the dance community connected.

“It’s about our dancers, and their families and their friends, and all of us doing this together,” Tamm said. “At the end of this, we’re going to become a stronger community of people.”

To learn more, visit Ms. Melinda's Dance Studio's website.