Rohanna Movement dancers return to stage after pandemic

MORGANTOWN — Is a performer still a performer with no audience? The dancers at The Rohanna Movement dance studio in Cheat Lake would contend the answer is a resounding yes.

The COVID-19 pandemic made for a challenging year for the dancers and their teachers — curtailing regional dance competitions and their beloved annual live recital in 2020. This year brought a brighter season, with resumed in-person spring classes, dance competitions with safety restrictions and the return of the year-end recital in front of family and friends.

“It was heartbreaking for our dancers to not get to really showcase their hard work last year,” said Jamie Rohanna, studio owner and veteran dance instructor. “Our students put in a tremendous amount of time and energy into dance and creating a video recital just wasn’t the same. After we got through the winter time, things really began to look up in the spring and we were able to get back in the studio together.”

“It was hard to learn our routines over Zoom, but we made the most of it. Being in the studio with my friends and dance teachers is definitely a lot more fun,” said student Emily Woods, of Morgantown. She has danced with The Rohanna Movement for five years.

“Keeping the kids moving while they were home last year was really important to us,” Rohanna said. “Dance and movement has many benefits to mental health and we wanted to continue to offer that opportunity in the safest way possible. It’s been incredible, though, having the students together in person for the last several months.”

In June, The Rohanna Movement students had the opportunity to again take the stage at the Metropolitan Theatre, showcasing their talents for their friends and family members. While it was a smaller audience than normal, the smiles on stage were just as big as in years past.

As a culmination to the 2021 dance season, The Rohanna Movement competition dance team traveled to Pittsburgh in late June for the Extreme Talent Showcase National Championships, which featured hundreds of dancers from 21 studios representing multiple dance genres, ages and levels.

The team’s signature group numbers “Switch” and “Take Off With Us” took second and third places in their respective tap and jazz categories. Two soloists claimed first place in their respective categories: Jena Washington for her lyrical number, “I Remember,” and Ella Harris for her tap number, “Groove.”

“It was awesome to be able to represent West Virginia and Morgantown at that level. Coming back after such a strange year felt great,” said Harris. Harris has been dancing with Rohanna for seven years.

Rohanna and her staff are already looking forward to the 2021-22 dance year choreographing routines and scheduling performances.

Specializing in tap dance, the studio has a variety of class offerings for all ages and experience levels. Enrollment for 2021-22 will begin in August. The Rohanna Movement is in Ashbrooke Square off Exit 10, Interstate 68, in Cheat Lake.

Those interested in learning more should send an email inquiry to studio@rohannamovement.com.

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