“When we found out we were losing our location at the Benicia Arsenal, I called [my SBDC advisor] and said ‘you remember that worse-case scenario that could happen? It happened.’ He put me in contact right away with a commercial realtor. It was such a gut wrenching experience and they were both great to us.”
Benicia Ballet has danced through all of the obstacles faced in 2020 – from the COVID pandemic to losing its original studio – thanks to the support of their dancing families, the community, and the Solano-Napa SBDC.
Benicia Ballet was hit with two devastating hurdles in the spring and summer of 2020. First, the COVID-19 pandemic closed the dance studio and all classes transitioned to Zoom. Then, the school lost its lease at the Benicia Arsenal, its home for over 30 years.
Benicia Ballet Owner Teresa Taylor connected with the Solano-Napa SBDC in May, attending webinars on business re-opening and utilizing one-on-one advising. She shared with her advisor that there was a chance the studio could lose its location. Once confirmed, her SBDC advisor was one of the first people she contacted. He introduced her to a commercial realtor and she eventually found a new location on Military East.
Even amid the challenges, the virtual classes never stopped and Benicia Ballet’s leadership continued to be proactive. The company applied for and was awarded grants through the city of Benicia and the Solano Workforce Development Board. They also focused on getting their students back to in-person lessons.
The school had recently put a new professional sprung floor down at their old location. When COVID-19 restrictions prevented the ballet students from being able to rehearse inside, Benicia Ballet partnered with their neighbor, Jazzercize, to set up the stage in the parking lot. Both businesses were able to utilize it for their outdoor classes.
Every dancer who arrives for class has their temperature checked and sanitizes before going on stage. The barres on stage are cleaned in between use. All students and instructors are required to wear masks. These added steps do not phase the young dancers. Warmups begin with “Pure Imagination” by Gene Wilder and the students are at barre and ready to go.