By Toni DeRosa
Wasco Tribune 

Planet Dance keeps on dancing virtually


Last updated 12/15/2020 at 7:40pm | View PDF

2020-21 Wasco Rose Queen and Planet Dance-sponsored candidate Isabella Garcia

Planet Dance may be closed due to the pandemic, but some students are taking virtual classes.

Located at 641 F St., owner Corine Matera also owns Planet Dance boutique in Bakersfield at 4909 Stockdale Highway. Her son, Jacob Hernandez, is managing the Wasco studio as well as teaching classes, which he has been doing since 2018.

Hernandez said when the first lockdown occurred last March he panicked and was concerned about the studio. In addition, he is a hair stylist, so both of his means of income were shut off.

He quickly changed his feelings once he was able to watch the 2020 Rose Queen pageant and realized that the studio, if it had to, could very well put on a recital digitally.

"I spent hours learning how to use Zoom," he said.

Hernandez said that the studio is taking all the necessary precautions to ensure everyone's health and safety.

"Even when we moved up to the red tier, we stayed closed because we weren't sure how long that would last and consistency is important," he added. "We didn't want our kids to come back for one or two weeks and then have to leave again."

The studio is sterilizing the inside on a daily basis. They have divided the floor space into a six-foot square for each individual dancer so they are able to maintain a safe distance when dancing.

"And, we insist everyone wear a mask when they are in the studio, even when dancing," he said. Hernandez also said that class size will be very limited in numbers.

"We have had as many as 130 students at one time in the studio for classes," Hernandez said. "Now we have 35 who we teach virtually."

Hernandez didn't feel it was right to charge everyone tuition when they couldn't physically attend class. Instead, they offered classes via Zoom and currently have the registered 35.

"Those 35 students are very engaged," Hernandez said. "This was going to be a very special year for us because our sponsored Rose Queen candidate took home the crown. Isabella Garcia has been dancing here for several years and we are so proud of her."

Hernandez was looking forward to another great competition year for his Galaxy performing/competing group. No one is competing right now and the last competition they went to was in November 2019. One of the last recitals they had was in memory of one of their students, Jordan Garza.

"Our shows have always been very successful," Hernandez said. "We usually take a month off in July after our June recital and we were hoping our students would be able to come back this past August."

However, that didn't happen because the county was still in the purple tier where non-essential businesses remained closed.

Things are looking up.

"Our first competition next year is KAR in February," Hernandez said. "We shall see if one will be held at all."

Planet Dance takes students age 4 and up.

"Those under 4 just don't know how to listen and follow directions and it's more like babysitting," Hernandez said. "When they are 4, it's like a new beginning for them."

Planet Dance runs a very structured dance school in which there is a dress code for all dancers and their joy is in watching groups of young dancers start out in a class together and move up from there so that they are still dancing in junior high and high school.

Miss Cassie with the Team Galaxy dancers

"Our kids love the structure," he said.

Hernandez further announced that the studio selected a 2020 scholarship winner, Klarissa Pruitt.

"Klarissa takes all the disciplines," Hernandez said. "All her fees are paid for the year, which includes tuition and costume fees and any registration fees required to compete."

The school selects a scholarship winner each year in December; however, the studio announces the name of the scholarship winner after the December show. This year, the announcement is made in spite of the lockdown.

Morale is high for the staff at the studio and "we are in a place of peace, I hope," Hernandez said.

For additional information contact Hernandez at 661-240-5924


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