November 07, 2014
Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5 – all huge names in American culture, all started their careers at the infamous Motown Records, first headquartered at 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, or, ‘Hitsville’ U.S.A.
Sitting in their beautifully chandeliered studio, light glittering off the parquet, this is the image that Kylie Kochert and Katie Gurley paint for me, both instructors at Danceville, U.S.A. “It’s not about taking people who already know exactly how to dance really, we’re a new studio and we’re really about trying to create new dancers, especially the people who don’t think they can be.” A young woman is lifted into the air behind me while a couple laugh watching their hips try to get in a rhythm in the mirrored walls, slowly but surely finding the beat.
With their flagship studio opening up on East Lincoln only a few months ago, Danceville, U.S.A. is working hard at recreating its Hitsville U.S.A. namesake, just swapping out cool crooning for fancy footwork. From offering private lessons for people just looking to start something new to choreography parties with a studio full of lifting arms and flourishing feet, Danceville is looking to foster a new collection of dancers in our own backyard. With the floor open to students for practice all day (when not reserved for group classes) and their monthly LGBT and Saddle-Up nights starting to gain momentum, it’s hard not to imagine them succeeding at it.
While the posh studio might seem intimidating at first, especially to a novice dancer, seeming more ‘Swan Lake’ than an ‘Introduction to Tango’, instructors assure that the vision of the studio is “much more about taking on beginners and developing new talent than working with people who are already experts. Working dancers already have studio spaces where they go to rehearse. We’re here for the people who maybe used to dance but got out of practice or have no experience at all, and who don’t have the space in a tiny apartment.”
As to the styles of dance that students can expect to tackle in the studio, Kochert explains “we’re trying to create a personalized experience” and that “fostering styles and personalities that work well together is key.” With her favorite style being a rumba – “it’s faster paced, fun, sexy” and Gurley’s a “smooth, milky” waltz, students can rely on learning how to impress.
Maybe unknown to locals, Danceville is hoping to tap into Columbus’ already prevalent position in dance. The Ohio Star Ball, one of the nation’s largest ballroom competitions, also the scene for the long running PBS series “America’s Ballroom Challenge” calls Columbus home. This, as well as BalletMet, and OSU’s strong collegiate dance programs, offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees in dance, beckons many dancers to the city. Famous coaches such as Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin both frequent the city and luckily for aspiring dancers, will be stopping by Danceville as guest instructors for their upcoming workshops.
On the agenda, apart from their growing LGBT and Saddle-Up nights, monthly theme parties are in order to showcase choreography projects as well as an interesting introduction to the neighborhood. This coming Christmas passersby will get a look at Santa’s village through the swirling gold script on the windows of the studio, complete with twirling elves and perhaps a fox-trotting Saint Nick. For those who want to give back during the holiday season, Danceville, U.S.A. will also be a drop off location for Toys for Tots.
Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” comes on the speakers and bounces off the smooth mirrored walls. My brow cocks up and I look at Kylie – “not really traditional”. She laughs and explains they’re getting the choreography down for next month’s project – a tribute to “Single Ladies”. “We’re about fun!” The instructors work on their pops and dips in the mirrors, not trying to contain their giggles but still nailing it pretty hard.
No question – it definitely looks fun.
Danceville, U.S.A. is located at 47 E. Lincoln St.
– Tyler Wilson