Can a ballet academy move its classes completely online? Yes! We were so inspired by Charlottesville Ballet and their co-founder, Sara Clayborne, we decided to interview her about the rapid and successful transition from the studio to Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out our video of the full interview, read the interview transcript, or our story below.

The Charlottesville Ballet — a nonprofit organization in Charlottesville, Virginia that Clayborne and co-founder Emily Hartka started in 2007 — includes a professional company of highly skilled dancers, an outreach and engagement program, and an academy that offered 99 classes per week pre-pandemic and served about 600 students. When Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued the Executive Order for businesses like the ballet school to shut its doors in March, to say that moving nearly 100 classes to Zoom was a challenge is an understatement. 

Sara Clayborne

Sara Clayborne, Co-Founder Charlottesville Ballet

“We immediately thought, How are we going to do this? We can’t just stop classes. So what are we going to do?” Clayborne said. “And like a lot of other arts organizations, we shifted to Zoom. Zoom definitely saved us. It was definitely a struggle in the beginning, but it was a quick shift because we didn’t have a lot of time to transition.”

The timeframe in which Clayborne and her staff needed to transition classes to an online platform was tight. “We had only told our parents we’re going to close for two weeks,” Clayborne explained, adding she felt that the two-week closure for schools in the state would actually be longer (she was right), making it necessary to transition the academy online. “So we had