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Devastated By Loss Of Studio One Dance Theater In Beverly, Teens Turn To Filmmaking To Cope And Create Documentary, 'One Step At A Time'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Two South Side teens feeling defeated by COVID-19 decided to cope by capturing the magic of dance with their camera.

The young filmmakers are getting ready to show the world their creation next week. CBS 2's Lauren Victory took us behind the lens.

Thirty-seven years of moving and grooving at the Studio One Dance Conservatory came to a halt when the pandemic hit.

The dance theater in Beverly closed, and dancer Avery Kelley shut down too.

"[Pre-Covid], I was there all the time," said the 13-year-old. "I sometimes found myself crying myself to sleep. And I was talking to my mom, looking at photos like: 'Oh my gosh, I don't get to go to dance. It's so sad.'"

Then a lightbulb turned on.

"I've been doing filmmaking for a while, so [my mom] told me, 'Use that to try and fill this void,'" said Kelley, who created the documentary, "One Step at A Time" with co-director Addison Belhomme, 14.

"I'm looking forward to everyone's reaction," Belhomme said.

Watch The Trailer For 'One Step At A Time'

One Step at a Time Documentary by Avery Addison on Vimeo

The 37-minute piece is filled with performances and perspective that celebrates Black excellence. It took about six months to produce as the young filmmakers juggled the virus and school.

"We had to make sure we could get all the equipment to people safely, meaning we would have to sanitize all of it," said Kelley.

The interviews were done over Zoom. Producer meetings were virtual, too.

"Those late nights working until 12 o'clock, going to school the next day, things like that, doing homework – kind of just seeing how all our work paid off, seeing how it looked in the end, just was really emotional for me," said Belhomme.

It was emotional for Studio One's founder, Pamela Avery, too. She willed herself not to cry during her CBS 2 interview.

"Everything shuts down, shuts off – but bills don't," she said of the devastating financial hit taken by the theater.

It still hasn't re-opened yet. The hope is things will fall into place by September or October.

In meantime, talking about Studio One's history helps with that hurt.

"It gave me a renewed vision and encouragement and reminded me of what it was all about," said Avery. "[Participating in the documentary] was a healing moment. It was absolutely a healing moment."

The public has a chance to experience that. The film's in-person debut is on July 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Beverly Arts Center.

Ticket sales will benefit the BAC and Studio One.

The girls ran a virtual premiere last month and donated those proceeds to the dance studio as well.

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