"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 relator. 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 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 SBDC in May, attending webinars on business re-opening and utilizing one-on-one advising. She shared with her advisor 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.
Their new facility was a dance school for 20 years and included two studios.
The school put a new professional sprung floor down at their old location, and Taylor and her husband, John Metellus, took it with them when they moved. However, as COVID-19 restrictions prevented the students from rehearsing inside, they worked with Jazzercise, the business next door, to install the flooring on a stage in Jazzercise's parking lot. The two businesses share the stage, allowing both to bring students back.
Benicia Ballet began outdoor classes in September with livestream available for dancers at home.
Every dancer has their temperature checked and sanitizes before going onstage. The barres are cleaned in between use. All students are required to wear masks.
Warmups begin with “Pure Imagination” by Gene Wilder and the students are at barre and ready to go.
For more information: www.beniciaballettheatre.org
(Photos courtesy of Benicia Ballet and Peter Lichty)