Twenty-six years ago, founder and director of Kaleidoscope Dance Laura Sargent Hall arrived on the Island with the man who would eventually become her husband. She began teaching dance here all those years ago. Hall brought with her a thorough background in dance and a master’s degree in dance movement therapy. At the time, there was little dance being offered on the Vineyard.
Hall’s first studio was called the Sargent School of Ballet, and she initially had a small number of students in her ballet and modern classes. “My approach to teaching dance is very child-centric,” she shares. “When I started teaching preschoolers, after about two years, I realized that these children love the idea of ballet with its tutus and ballet slippers, but they want to be expressing themselves and having fun. They don’t have the attention span to stand at the barre and learn dance moves. I took my understanding of child development, teaching as a kid, and dancing, and combined them into a creative movement class for preschoolers that nurtured their expression and creativity.”
When teaching classes for older students, although she taught technique, she continued — especially with modern dance — to encourage a lot of movement and choreography. Hall recalls that they developed some of the most interesting dances she had seen. “I love fostering that confidence and creativity in my students and love of dance,” Hall says.
She expanded about 10 years ago, deciding to offer one of her old students, Lucia Dillon, a teaching position with the little ones. “It was a lot teaching every single class of every single age, and then putting the show together of every dance that I made,” Hall says.
Things were going along swimmingly until about a year ago March, when COVID closed everything down. Little did Hall know that her prediction that they would pick up again in two weeks would be far from reality.
But as things started changing, in September they tested the waters with outdoor classes in Veterans Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven. “Even though we were outside, and everyone was wearing masks, after so long, I could feel the energy pouring into me and me into the students. It was so wonderful to be there,” Hall said. Then in the fall, they transitioned indoors, keeping the classes small and employing air purifiers, hand sanitizer, open windows, scrupulous cleaning, and everyone still wearing masks.
COVID interrupted the rehearsals and preparation for 2020’s annual spring show, which is near and dear to the students’ hearts, so Hall and Lucia determined this winter to create some kind of performance. And if they couldn’t find a space to do it live, they would film it. Fortunately, everything fell into place. By May, things were opening up, and they were able to secure Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs to host the performances. They limited the number of audience members, which was hard because there were about 50 students, meaning each would only be able to have three tickets, when usually the entire family plus friends came out to see their children dance. They added a second show to accommodate more guests.
Thinking ahead, Hall says that they don’t usually have space for dance classes during the summer, but she is considering teaching for a couple of weeks. “But we will hopefully be back to normal, whatever the rules are, by September,” Hall says.
Hall laughs now at how many past students she has who have children of their own. “I love having relationships with children and creating a safe space for them to be confident and who they are and in what they’re doing,” she says. “It’s a wonderful vocation to have.”
For more information about Kaleidoscope Dance, email firstname.lastname@example.org.