It’s been a month since the fire that displaced a number of families and businesses in Denison’s historic downtown district. For the Denison Dance Academy things are only now starting to get back to like normal.
Denison Dance Academy owner Ilona Nogarr said she feels incredibly blessed compared to some of her neighbors. The business recently returned to its original location at 325 West Main Street, and things are going back to dancing as usual.
Nogarr heard about the fire while she was away, and her initial reaction was to think her building was safe. However, she said once she arrived and firefighters were moving hoses into her building to spray the walls with water, she knew she too was going to suffer losses due to the fire.
Fortunately, she said it wasn’t a loss in terms of material goods. It was lost time in preparing for the upcoming “Nutcracker” performance scheduled for next month at Kidd-Key Auditorium.
“The kids — when they heard — they were all crying,” Nogarr said. “I was blessed. I didn’t lose anything. All the costumes were safe. They are all handmade. I stitched many myself. I was happy nobody was hurt. It still feels unreal. I can’t even today wrap my head around it. I was blessed. My neighbors lost more than I did.”
Nogarr said her business was temporarily relocated to another space down further on Main Street. They picked up the dance floors, the mats and the bars and moved everything over.
That first day, she said nothing made sense. So, she cleaned. She described the water as seeping down the walls like there were cracks in the walls. The floor was wet. All her possessions were covered in smoke residue.
The smoke damage has kept some businesses from being able to reopen, she said. Her focus was to get her dancers ready for the show.
“We’re working double time now,” Nogarr said. “My girls are disciplined. They were in shock, in tears when it happened. They wouldn’t get to dance. ‘The Nutcracker’ is only a few weeks away. We have to be ready.”
Nogarr said it was the people that made it better. All the love and support everyone received, she said was what keeps them going.
The dancers were in the temporary studio for about a week, and it was a lot of extra work moving everything back and forth. And then, it was getting the ballet dancers in the mindset of moving forward.
She watched that night as the fire grew closer to her building. As the night went on, she grew more afraid. Then she watched the roof collapse on one building, then another. That was when she really began to worry. That was about the time the firefighters were moving hoses into her building. There wasn’t any major damage on the first floor she said, but the loft upstairs didn’t fair so well. A door was destroyed. The roof caved in. There was smoke damage all over. She had to vacate the loft.
Her family has been helping her keep her studio open. She said she was incredibly grateful for that.
Even after a month, Nogarr is still facing issues. The heater was damaged and the girls were having to dance with their coats on. She just got that fixed this week, but it was only a temporary fix. She is still waiting on the repairs to the main unit. But, her dancers were no longer freezing which she said was a good thing.
The “Nutcracker” ballet will open on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. at Kidd Key Auditorium at the Sherman Municipal Building with a second show Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.