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Lompoc School of Dance closes permanently after nearly 50 years

"No safe way" to hold dance classes in studio
Posted at 6:50 AM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 10:49:11-04

Over the last 48 years, thousands of dancers have practiced their craft at Denise Donlon's Lompoc School of Dance.

"I was planning to teach another five years but I guess not," Donlon said.

Donlon opened the Lompoc School of Dance in 1972. In recent years, she's taught up to 150 students a year ranging from age 3 to 75.

Donlon stopped holding classes in March following the state's COVID-19 stay-at-home order but she was optimistic about eventually reopening.

"Then, I came to the realization that this is going to go on for a long time," she said.

Donlon felt there was no safe way to bring her students and staff back into the dance studio during the pandemic.

She is in the high-risk category herself.

"I would not be able to teach until next April at the earliest and that's if there was a vaccine," Donlon said.

She mailed a letter to her students and their families last week to announce the permanent closure of the Lompoc School of Dance.

"I can't keep my business afloat without income until next June."

News of the closure came as a shock to current and former students like Heather Collins.

"I'm really heartbroken because [Lompoc School Of Dance] was such a positive place for me," Collins told KSBY.

Collins along with her sister and mother took classes at the dance school. She remembers performing at local nursing homes and elementary schools as part of Donlon's mission to share dance with the community.

"I'm so beyond grateful for everything [Donlon] has done for me and all the people I grew up with," Collins said. "All my best friends came from that studio."

Until the curtain rises again, Donlon encourages her dancers to focus on strengthening their technique while they search for other places to continue their training.

As Donlon begins her early retirement, she says she treasures the many memories from the studio and the stage.

"I'm grateful I got to do it as long as I did."