Young dancers and their parents have been left high and dry after a Watertown dance studio shut its doors. Clients of Performer's Edge said they paid the owners for videos of their children at recitals, and accuse the owner of closing up and robbing them of their memories.
Melanie Perez said it was a proud moment when her daughter Amanda took to the stage in her first recital last June.
The budding dancer was taking classes at Performer's Edge when it closed down. Perez said she wanted to capture the moment on video, but the studio's policy banned video cameras and flash photography.
Instead, studio owner Amber Ely recorded it herself and sold the video to parents.
"Instead of hiring a photographer she offered everyone to take pictures herself with her own camera," Perez said.
Perez said parents paid $25 for a DVD of the performance and $30 for digital pictures. She said she ordered two DVDs and waited for the videos to show up.
"At the time, Amber Ely, the owner of the studio, promised everybody a DVD within a few weeks," Perez said.
As the summer months passed, Perez started to wonder where the DVDs were.
"I said, 'something's not right. It doesn't take 3 1/2 months to process a DVD,'" she said.
And Perez wasn't alone.
Other parents were asking the same questions on the studio's Facebook page, and the buzz online was that the studio closed.
Perez emailed Ely over the summer and asked for updates, but the correspondence became heated.
"She said, ‘If you would like your money back, I'd gladly send it to you, or you could be civil and wait like everybody else,'" Perez said. "And I said, 'it's not about the money, I want the DVD.'"
Last week, she said she made her last plea.
"I said, ‘this is my final attempt to contact you regarding the two DVDs I paid for. If you don't call me by Monday, I'm filing suit against you,'" she said.
Perez said Ely responded by saying, "Go ahead. I have all the time in the world."
Channel 3 Eyewitness News tried calling the studio and the number was disconnected. So Eyewitness News then went to Ely's home in Woodbury to ask where the DVDs and photos are, and when parents can expect to get them.
"They're supposed to be delivered in October," she said.
But with October almost over and months that have gone by, Eyewitness News wanted to know exactly when the DVDs would be delivered.
"Yea," Ely said. "They're going to be delivered tomorrow. Well, they're going to be delivered this weekend. Wait. Is this Channel 3?"
After realizing who was asking the questions, Ely declined to make any more comments but did confirm the studio closed down.
"I would like some answers honestly," Perez said. "I mean, if you don't have the DVD, let me know. Let everyone know. Let us know what you really did. Come clean."
Channel 3 Eyewitness News followed up with Perez a week after speaking with Ely and she said she still has not received those DVDs.
Perez said she has filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and is considering contacting the Department of Consumer Protection next.
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