Cadance Academy Director

Cadance Academy artistic director Gaea Jess had to make some quick adjustments in order to keep the academy operating when everything was locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. KIRK STARRATT

NEW MINAS, N.S. — Considering everything going on in the world today, perhaps it’s more important now than ever to keep dancing.

Cadance Academy artistic director Gaea Jess said dance can be a great way to deal with stress. Several students and parents have told her that virtual classes offered during the COVID-19 lockdown were like a lifeline to them.

Cadance Academy is a private dance school that has been operating for more than 40 years. Gaea took over from her mother, Linda Jess, in 2006 after moving back to the Annapolis Valley from Calgary the year before.

She said Cadance cultivates an environment where people can learn the art form of dance while developing greater confidence and self-esteem. There are programs suitable for all ages, from babies to adults.

Jess said they place an emphasis on teaching technique in a safe environment while helping dancers develop performance skills, with a focus on overall wellbeing.

“Dance is a performing art but it’s also great exercise for people too, for your body and your mind and overall wellness,” Jess said.

When COVID-19 forced businesses into lockdown this past March, Jess had to quickly pivot to keep Cadance operating. Although she had never taught a virtual class before, they made the switch to offering classes online. Virtual classes began the week of March break.

She said there was a learning curve on both ends but it was important to make the transition as easy as possible for students and parents. Although it was more challenging with the younger students, Jess said it worked out very well.

She said there were students and teachers struggling with the new reality they were facing, so strong leadership and communication took on even greater significance.

The school took a break in mid-May before finishing up classes in July. Cadance students then put on “mini showcases.” Classes were broken up into smaller groups and the showcases were held at the academy’s outdoor studio and gazebo.

Because dance is a performing art, Jess said it wouldn’t have been the same for students if they had to stage the showcases virtually. She also made the decision to carry on with in-person dance camps in August.

With the start of the new dance year, Cadance has now returned to in-person instruction, keeping class sizes to 10 or fewer students while following necessary health protocols.

Jess said it’s critical to the wellbeing of the economy for people to continue supporting small businesses like Cadance Academy, both during the pandemic and otherwise. Jess said it would be devastating to have to close her doors, a reality many small businesses have already faced. Many are struggling to survive financially at the best of times.

Cadance Academy is located at 47 Roy Ave., New Minas, and also has a studio at Bishop Hall, located at 10032 Highway 1 in Greenwich. For more information or to register for classes, visit, email or visit the Cadance Academy Facebook page.

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