Black-owned KC dance studio to host joint final recital after pandemic shutters business

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RAYTOWN, Mo. — Expressions In Dance Studio has been a fixture in the Raytown Plaza for 30 years. Now owner Raven Cooper is forced to close her doors.

Cooper said because of the stay-at-home orders, she hasn’t held classes in nearly four months, so she can’t be her bills. 

“When we found out we weren’t going to be able to hold classes, we turned off gas, phone, internet. I left my alarm system and electricity, and that’s it,” Cooper said.

This Sunday, the studio’s dancers will have one final curtain call, thanks to Kimberlyn Jones, the owner of the Kansas City Metropolitan Dance Theater.

Metropolitan Dance Theater has been open for over a decade. Jones is continuing the legacy from Smith Sister’s Dance Studio, where she attended. Smith Sister’s dance studio served black dancers in the metro for over 60 years. 

Jones also invited Expressions’ dancers to join her girls at the World War I Memorial for a socially distanced recital.

“The dance circuit is like a family,” Jones said. “Some people consider it a competitive thing. I look at it as a dance family. We all have our unique way and our unique style.” 

Surviving during the health crisis hasn’t been easy for Jones either. Her studio is open again. But Jones temporarily moved to online classes. 

“I thought it was still important to connect with them and show them I’m here, I care. ‘How you doing? You look cute today,'” Jones said. 

It’s an uncertain time for many. But these studio owners hope to bring people together through dance. 

“I think dance is a gift from a higher power, or whatever you want to call it, and should be shared because it can make someone happy, someone sad or bring someone to a better place,” Cooper said. 

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