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A dance to being creative during COVID

By on April 25, 2021 in Arts with 0 Comments
Lindsey Martin: “I think and live dance 24/7 these days, but I still love it.” Photo by Mike Irwin

Owner Lindsey Martin: ‘I’m just a little hustler’

By Susan Lagsdin

Lindsey Martin isn’t going to let this year’s ever-shifting pandemic standards of Levels 1, 2 or 3, dampen her creativity. 

Her Wenatchee studio, Dance Creations, adheres to safety rules by breaking a few longstanding traditions.

“The parents used to sit in here to watch their kids in dance classes,” she gestured to a small room with stacked folding chairs and two big TV screens. “But with COVID, we Zoom the classes so they can leave and do errands and watch from their cars or at home.” She built a shelf in each studio space for a slim laptop to record sessions.

Distance watching works so well she’s considering bumping out a wall and converting the “parent room” into a fourth studio space when life and dance classes return to normal.

Overall registration is lower than usual (359 at its height, 250 this year), so for her business to survive and thrive and attract new clientele, Lindsey recently became certified both in tumbling and as personal trainer. 

There’s a new YouTube page with tricks, tips and free choreography. She’s also added private dance lessons, enabling her to keep staff working. And she’s picked up a few grants. “I’m just a little hustler,” she grinned.

Her entrepreneurial agility extends to scheduling and facilities use, too. To accommodate the COVID protocol’s smaller class sizes, lessons times are shorter (with disinfecting time built in) and individuals are limited to two classes per week. 

But the place is now hopping, even hip-hopping, seven full days a week in all three studios, up from four afternoon/evenings during a typical school year. (She’s happy that her husband works a similar schedule. “It means we really never mess up the house.”) “I think and live dance 24/7 these days, but I still love it,” said Lindsey.

And no one loves dance more than the dancers. As other performance artists know, it’s tough to stay home with no audience. For Lindsey’s Elite Team of highly motivated, competitive students, it’s heartbreaking. 

Over the years hundreds of plaques, ribbons and trophies have created a wall of fame in the long Dance Creations hallway, but in 2021 the traveling corps (usually numbering 70, now 45) was sidelined. “In March,” Lindsey said, “we were finally able to go to two competitions. And they were in heaven just being on stage!”

Lindsey danced on a professional stage younger than most. In 2004, still a Wenatchee High School senior, she caught the eye of a Seattle competition judge with good connections. “He actually told me later, ‘You were not the best dancer, but your passion stood out,’” she said. 

With shaky confidence matching her mother’s trepidations, at 18 Lindsey headed off to live and dance on her own in the beating heart of the Los Angles entertainment industry.

Constant classes and auditions kept her in view and in demand. Music videos were her bread and butter, and she worked with name-droppable names like Eminem, Mariah Carey, Prince and Sir Mix-a-Lot. 

Years of contemporary and jazz dance training at Fabulous Feet studio gave her strong skills, and her own ambition gave her drive.

Constant, sometimes demeaning hard work in a frenzied atmosphere that she said discreetly, “is just about as bad as you can picture it,” doesn’t fit most artists’ dream scene. But Lindsey learned early on what sacrifices lead to success, and she gladly made them. For a while. 

“After four years, I realized it was time to come home.” Lindsey is frank about that era. “I was young, I didn’t know right from wrong. You’re always changing yourself to suit a role, and eventually I wasn’t just unhappy with who I was, I felt like I was losing myself.”

As a welcome back to Wenatchee, her grandparents fronted her $10,000 for six months with interest, to open a dance studio. The money went to her lease, laminated flooring, mirrors, barres, paint and publicity. 

“I paid them back in three months.” How? Social media, a postcard mailing service, posters and flyers and a lot of legwork.

 She opened her new doors in 2008 to a whopping 150 students and by 2017 won a national award from the Association of Dance Competitions and Conventions for best dance studio.

Now Lindsey, with a trimmed staff of six, shares her passion for dance every day and has become a mentor, confidante, sister and mom to many of her students, and she feels she can honestly counsel ambitious young dancers with stars in their eyes.

With unions and the Me-Too movement, the commercial entertainment industry (i.e.: L.A.) has changed for women in dance. “It’s a much better environment for them now,” she said. 

“And besides, there are so many other ways to dance.” She listed myriad conventions and competitions, choreography, cruise ships, festivals, Disney, Cirque de Soleil, teaching.

“Many students give up in their late teens. Or they get busy with school. I understand, but It breaks my heart to see them leave with so much talent and potential,” she said. 

Her own commendations and awards collected over 31 solid years of dancing are dazzling, but what’s most important now to Lindsey is the dance family she’s created. She’s excited to open Spring classes and said, “I don’t ever want to stop. I want to do this forever.”

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