This Is How a Dance Instructor Pivots in a Pandemic

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Hallie Kuperman can shift out a rumba into a waltz without missing a beat, but Covid-19 crisis has forced  dance instructor in  to use a whole different set of muscles. Like many  owners across the U.S., she’s had to pivot to comply with public-health measures designed to deter the spread of the virus.

In Kuperman’s case, it mean turning her 23-year-old dance venue, the Century Ballroom, into a socially distanced dining space for her sister business, a restaurant called the Tin Table. With help from a loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, she brought back a skeleton crew to retool the space and started figuring out how to operate safely. None of this has been straightforward or easy—not least because of the protest zone called the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, that took root less than a block from the ballroom’s doorstep for most of June. The sporadic violence that erupted in the CHOP prompted Kuperman and the owners of several other establishments in the area to cut back their hours of operation.

Patrons at the Tin Table now sit at massively spaced-out tables. All orders and payment are handled through an app to limit face-to-face contact. The menu is pared back, and the cooks wash the dishes. And Kuperman, who used to dance, dance, dance, now disinfects, disinfects, disinfects.

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