Dance studio ready for new season

Dance studio ready for new season

By Caton Deuso

A little more than a year ago, Gretta Hochsprung of Step n’ Time Dance Studio in Whitehall was facing the loss of 30 students in her studio during the shutdown caused by the Covid pandemic. The border closure between states forced Hochsprung to teach her remaining Vermont students through Zoom.

Now she is gearing up for a new dance season and Hochsprung still maintains her top priority when she first enters the studio for the day.

“We start by opening all the windows, I turn on all of our fans that have HEPA filters on them, we wipe down surfaces that are touched often like the ballet bars and the tables,” she said.

Even though vaccinations have provided protection from the virus, Hochsprung still keeps her studio spotless because the last thing she wants is for a case to come from her studio. Hochsprung also mentioned with the new delta variant of the virus, she puts the health of her students first.

“We make sure that we never spread Covid in the studio,” she said. “There’s enhanced cleaning, the windows are open, the fans are going and any space that the kids are in, we are trying our best to keep them at least three feet apart if not farther.”

For the last recital, Hochsprung was nervous with the weeks leading up to the celebration. With state regulations changing so frequently, she was unsure if the recital would be able to go on.

“At the time it was like ‘you can bring one person to the recital’ and then it was, as things were opening up, ‘oh now you can bring two people to the recital.’ The week of the recital was in mid-June and that was when everything opened up. We had no capacity limits, kids could take off their masks if they were vaccinated, it was awesome! It was such a relief to bring as many people as we could to watch the show,” she said.

The studio it has been passed down through the generations. It all began in 1938 when Angela Nichols was 18 years-old when she started the Nichols School of Dance.

“My mother danced there when she was a kid so there are a lot of generations of Whitehallers that have danced at what is now Step n’ Time Dance Studio.

1955 Recital

Nichols’s daughter, Andrea Episifanio, taught with her mother for several years. According to Hochsprung, Episifanio took over the studio next.

While Hochsprung was working in Boston, she received a call from Episifanio, asking her to take over.

“I was dancing with a studio but I was also a newspaper reporter and editor for the Community Newspaper Company and Andrea called me and told me, ‘I want to retire.’ She was in her 60s at that point and said ‘I want to retire, is there any chance you want to come home and take over the studio,’ and I said ‘no I don’t want to do that’,” she laughed.

“Then as I thought about it a lot, I thought, ‘you know, I guess it wouldn’t be such a bad idea,’ and I moved home and coincidentally, I was a reporter, and I applied for a job at the Post-Star and they hired me so I did both for a lot of years.”

Hochsprung is excited to see what this coming season will hold for her, seeing as it will be her 19th season, and she is thankful for all the students whoD have stuck with the studio since the beginning of the pandemic.

“I think dance means a lot to the people in Whitehall and I am so appreciative of those who stuck with it through this,” she said.