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'She really did go the extra mile:' Star dance teacher still holds recital

Amber Barnes wanted to make sure her Idaho Dance Academy students could perform.

STAR, Idaho — Dance students practice the entire school year preparing for the final recital. It usually happens in May, but with COVID-19, most recitals had to be canceled. One studio in Star still gave students that final performance of the year.

Amber Barnes opened Idaho Dance Academy in Star about 14 years ago. She focuses on ballet, and splashes in some tap and jazz. 

Her students practice for months working up to the big recital, but when COVID-19 hit, classes moved online. Barnes said she remembers at first thinking it would just be for a short time.

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"As we got into that I thought 'oh, I think this is going to last a lot longer than a couple of weeks,'" explained Barnes.

So she had to get creative. In addition to Zoom and YouTube classes, teachers met with students at home.

"Parents allowed us to come to their house and they danced in driveways," Barnes said.

Analiese Smith is an assistant teacher to the smallest dancers.

"It was quite fun to go to houses and teach little girls their dance," Smith said.

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The 14-year-old also takes classes from Barnes. 

"She's the best teacher I've ever had for ballet," Smith said.

Smith says she wasn't surprised Barnes found a way to still have a recital. She talked with an auditorium in Ontario, Oregon, they usually book and they agreed to the recital as long as CDC guidelines were followed.

"So we had to have basically one class at a time," explained Barnes. "It wasn't a normal dance recital by any means because we had no parents in the audience. We made audience silhouettes so someone was cheering them on. "All of the silhouettes were made by the dancers."

The recital was recorded so parents and friends could still watch. Smith's mom, Marriah, says it was hard to not be in the audience, but this was the next best thing.

"It was definitely different and sad we couldn't be in there and support the girls, but we were able to in a different way, and we'll be able to watch later on," said Marriah Smith. "[Barnes] is very creative and she really did go the extra mile."

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Barnes says she just didn't want to take away one more thing from her students and is glad it all worked out.

"They did a tremendous job," Barnes said. "It was all worthwhile."

Barnes says many players had a hand in making the recital happen and she's thankful for all the help.

If you would like to nominate a teacher that is going above and beyond right now send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com. Educators, for more information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation visit www.capedfoundation.org.

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