Dane Co. dance studio facing nearly $24,000 in fines for public health order complaint

Public Health Madison Dane Co. filed a complaint against A Leap Above Dance in Oregon for allegedly violating December health guidelines.
Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 10:36 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 10:39 PM CST
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OREGON, Wis. (WMTV) - An Oregon dance studio is facing nearly $24,000 in fines for allegedly violating the Dane Co. health order in place in December.

On Tuesday, A Leap Above Dance fought back by joining an existing lawsuit challenging the county’s legal authority to issue restrictions, such as gathering limits. The move comes after Public Health Madison Dane Co. (PHMDC) filed a complaint against the studio on January 25, alleging 119 people took part in a production of the ‘Nutcracker’ on Dec. 13.

The owner of the studio, Natalie Nemecky, said they were following the rules as they understood them.

“I feel really attacked by what they did,” she said.

Photo Courtesy: Natalie Nemecky
Photo Courtesy: Natalie Nemecky(Natalie Nemecky)

Nemecky said they filmed the show with no more than ten dancers in the room at once. However, City of Madison Assistant Attorney Marci Paulsen said they still broke the rules.

“At that point in time we were under an emergency order which prohibited all gatherings of individuals that weren’t the same household or in the same living unit, because our Covid numbers were very high at that point in time,” Paulsen said.

Emergency Order 10, in place from November 20 to December 15, banned all indoor gatherings within the county. This included sports, which Paulsen said a dance studio classifies as.

“So it was determined the Nutcracker performance was in violation of the public health order at the time,” she said.

However, Nemeckay said they do not fall under sports, but consider themselves an ‘unregulated youth program.’ PHMDC capped those gatherings at no more than 15 people inside.

“Being as a more fine arts school, a dance school, I never considered us a sport,” Nemeckay said.

She said they have done their best to provide a safe experience for students.

“I think our students really need this right now. They need activities like dance,” she said.

The conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty initially filed the suit against PHMDC on Jan. 20. It was amended to include A Leap Above Dance. A hearing is scheduled for March 3.

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