Northampton School of Dance closing doors

Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2020 9:03:52 PM

NORTHAMPTON — No longer will the click-clack of tap dancing, nor the graceful movements of ballet or the lyrical melodies of musical theater fill Northampton School of Dance’s studio. The school recently announced its closure due the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Friday email to students and families, Northampton School of Dance director and owner Jennifer Peterson (who also teaches jazz and lyrical dance) announced the dance school’s closure.

“As you know COVID has been detrimental to small businesses and NSD was no exception,” she wrote. “It has been an amazing pleasure to watch your children grow and flourish these past 15½ years in business. It has truly been an honor to have you welcome us teachers into your families. We have such wonderful memories of our NSD dancers and their families that we will cherish and hold on to forever in our hearts.”

Peterson said Sunday that in mid-March the studio was shut down temporarily by the pandemic, much like many other businesses. In April, classes were taught via Zoom.

“It was really hard, especially for the younger kids, to take class through that way,” she explained. “It was very foreign to them to be in front of a screen trying to take dance classes.”

During the summer, the studio tried its hand at in-person classes with masks and cleaning in between classes, but summer classes even during a normal year typically see lower enrollments than other times in the year. The enrollment continued to decline into the fall.

In March, the dance studio had about 120 to 140 students enrolled in classes, but by earlier this month, that number had dropped down to just 40 students, Peterson said.

“The enrollment was so drastically smaller than prior years and we weren’t able to continue paying our bills,” she said. “We just didn’t have enough students to keep everything going.”

Prior to closing, the dance studio offered classes for students ranging from 2½ years old to adults, with most students between the ages of 6 and 12, Peterson said. The Northampton School of Dance offered competitive and recreational dance programs as well as acrobatics, ballet, hip-hop, jazz dance, modern dance and pointe dance.

David Bovat, a dance instructor with Northampton School of Dance for the past 13 years, also teaches at studios in Agawam, Springfield, Westfield and Three Rivers. For him, the Northampton studio was a place where he’d commonly find students who were “driven” in their pursuit of dance.

“I was pretty devastated, but if I could say one thing to the families and children up there, I’d say, ‘Keep your children dancing,’” he added. “It’s an unfortunate thing that (Peterson) couldn’t make a go of it, as many small businesses are going through right now. I wish there was more help for that type of business to keep it going … This is just another kick in the gut for us.”

For Peterson, she’ll cherish the students and families who were supportive during the pandemic.

“I think people have a lot of good memories,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from people saying, ‘Thank you so much for all the wonderful memories.’ Most people are very understanding of these challenging times.”

Chris Goudreau can be reached at

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