"How is it that parents can go to the pub for a great time but their children can't attend their ballet class?"
This is one of the many questions the dance community is asking as they grapple with "huge restrictions" stopping students from participating.
Camperdown's Jammin Dance Works owner Alice Corneby said her dance lessons remained at a standstill, while other contact sports had resumed almost as normal under COVID-19 restrictions.
Ultimately, it's the school's young dancers and adults with a disability who are suffering.
Ms Corneby said it was difficult to run normal classes at the Camperdown RSL under density requirements, and while she was considering all options, hiring a larger venue wasn't financially viable.
To operate she would have to run classes of 10 students and one instructor rather than the usual class size of 15-20 students, thus doubling her workload. Students aged 12 and over would have to wear masks.
She has tried to come up with various solutions and contacted the virus hotline seeking clarification but said it was such a grey area and so confusing with two government websites providing different information.
"I get frustrated," Ms Corneby said. "So many kids don't do outdoor activities, dancing or performing arts is their thing. So why should they be robbed of what they love and their passion when everyone else is able to go ahead with their sports? Some kids just don't play ball sports."
During COVID-19 Ms Corneby lost 70 of the 160 students enrolled at the start of 2020 which she attributed to financial pressures and ongoing uncertainty if classes parents paid for would run.
She said studio owners from Colac to Port Fairy had started a Facebook page to work together within the guidelines.
"Out of all the sports, dancers are taught spatial awareness," Ms Corneby said. "There's not many other sports that you are told to hold your own space. It's interesting that players can share a football or a netball while they're sweating and we're not allowed to have normal classes."
Ms Corneby said dancing had a number of health and wellbeing benefits, including physical, emotional and social. "It can be their little safe place, lots of kids like to come and feel free."
She said dancing gave students a sense of normality and routine, in a challenging time, despite not being permitted to hold an end-of-year concert which she likened to a netball or football grand final.
Ms Corneby has continued to pay insurance and registration throughout the lockdowns and said she was thankful she hadn't bought her own premises.
Dance Arts Alliance (DAA) chair Mike Harrison-Lamond said dance and performing arts schools had had enough and the "government's lack of understanding" was destroying the industry.
The advocacy and support body is urging the Victorian government to allow dance and performing arts schools open, in line with primary and secondary schools.
Mr Harrison-Lamond said regional studios opened with "huge restrictions" on Friday, while Melbourne studios remained shut. "How is it that parents can go to the pub for a great time but their children can't attend their ballet class?" he said.
He said studios had operated in a "very careful and compliant manner" since March last year and there hadn't been a case at a dance and performing arts school nationwide, "yet other industries are allowed to open".
"We haven't even been allowed to teach online from an empty studio, which makes absolutely no sense at all."
He said while children could participate in dance classes at school, without social distancing, they couldn't attend their COVID Safe dance studios.
Camperdown mum Kelly Wain wants dancing to be recognised and prioritised the way other sports are for her daughter Isabella, 10, and others.
"Some people can do some things (under the restrictions) but dancing can't seem to take place, not in a way that can be done properly, like football or hockey can," Mrs Wain said.
"Even the fact the guidelines around dancing are so unclear and that Alice doesn't know what she's allowed to do is a reflection that whoever makes the guidelines don't respect what the dancers do, because they haven't even bothered to think about it. Whereas the guidelines for community sports like hockey and football are much clearer because they're clearly prioritising those."
Mrs Wain said she was frustrated by it all and it was yet another gender barrier in terms of womens sport.
"You can dance at home but dancing is very much a team sport like any other," she said. "They learn to work together to produce a dance for people to view. Their dancing at that level is working together to produce a team dance."
Isabella dances three nights-a-week at the studio and trains hard to maintain her fitness. During last year's closure she lost flexibility and muscle tone, as well as her abilities and confidence to perform certain moves.
"It's (the restrictions) not seeing them as strong disciplined athletes that are working hard, training each week. That's what I want Isabella to see herself as, as a strong and confident young woman. Not being able to dance has really impacted on that."
She said some people, including the government, didn't take dancing's sport status seriously.
"Dancing is more than just looking good in a leotard, it's about being able to follow instructions and increasingly complex sets of instructions. They've got to learn skills the same way her brothers learn hockey and swimming skills."