Kathye Lewis and Gregory Norman have a shared passion for ballroom dancing, which led them to cofound Let’s Dance Academy
in November 2015. They received a $10,000 grant from People’s Liberty
to make their dreams a reality.
When the pair started Let’s Dance, they focused on teaching fifth and sixth graders at South Avondale Elementary School how to ballroom dance.
“We wanted to bring culture to the kids at South Avondale, and show them a different way to dance,” Norman said. “We also wanted to help them understand the history around the dance and where it came from.”
Norman has been ballroom dancing for the past 10 years, and was taught by instructors in both Detroit and Los Angeles. He has also studied ballroom dancing on his own to learn the history, various styles and importance to the African American community on a national and international level.
Lewis doesn’t have an official background in ballroom dancing, but has been a dancer for her entire life. She’s taken classes and workshops, and has come to know a national community of ballroom dancers.
Over the past 10 years, Dancing with the Stars
has brought more exposure to ballroom dancing. According to Norman, the ‘70s and ‘80s saw partner dances like the hustle, but the ‘90s and early ‘00s didn’t have a lot of partner dances. Now there is a renewed interested in ballroom dancing.
“The dominant driving force for us is to get young people into ballroom dancing so that culture doesn’t die again,” he said.
Lewis and Norman did an initial two sessions with the students, providing meals and dance costumes for them through the People’s Liberty grant. They also held a graduation ceremony, where they handed out trophies and invited the students’ family members and the community.
At the moment, Let’s Dance is focusing on teaching adults how to ballroom dance.
“We’re trying to grow classes and are expanding our reach within the adult community,” Lewis said.
Ultimately, they want to expand classes and offer them at different locations throughout the city. Classes are $5, and are currently held at the College Hill Recreation Center.