September 22, 2022, appearing on VoyageMinnesota.com
Today we’d like to introduce you to Rae Lyons.
Hi Rae, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Benjamin Welch and I (Rae Lyons) met when we became professional dance partners in 2016. He had taught ballroom dance in Duluth for a few years, and I taught in Minneapolis for a few years. We had a tryout and decided to perform in a competition together. We realized we had a lot of fun dancing together, and it wasn’t long before I moved to Duluth! We continued teaching while we pursued our professional dance goals until 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we did some serious soul searching and decided that we did want to own a dance studio and that we wanted to do it together. By June 1, 2021, North Shore Ballroom was born! We started teaching out of Stacey’s Studio of Dance Education while we looked for a more permanent home, and on September 13, 2021, we moved into Kenwood Village! It is amazing to look back and see how far we’ve come in such a short period. We now have four additional employees and a beautiful studio in a wonderful location. We are growing the ballroom dance community in the Twin Ports area through group classes at the Hermantown YMCA and Community Education. We offer something for everyone, including private lessons and group classes, we host social dances on Fridays and two Sundays a month, and we help wedding couples create their dream wedding dance. Benjamin and I are incredibly proud of what we’ve built and are excited about the future!
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Considering we opened during a pandemic, it has been a fairly smooth road! We knew our time at Stacey’s Studio of Dance Education would be limited because starting on September 13, 2021, they would not have space for us. During the Summer, we searched for the perfect space and finally found Kenwood Village. Once we signed the lease, we had five weeks to do the build-out. We were moved by how supportive the community was, and some of our students even volunteered their time to help us paint in exchange for pizza! We hit our goal, and we could start teaching on September 13! Over the next month, we put the finishing touches in place and were ready for our Grand Opening party by late October. Our current challenge is that we are incredibly busy! We offer some programming almost every day of the week, and we travel to events and host our in-studio events. It can be a lot of work to coordinate all the moving parts, but it is always worth it! We are also hiring and looking to bring one to two more instructors to our team.
We’ve been impressed with North Shore Ballroom, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We are a ballroom dance studio specializing in teaching ballroom dance through one-on-one instruction, group classes, social dances, and other dance events. All our instructors are continuing their dance education through certification and professional competitive dancing. We also offer student certifications, which can be likened to forms of martial arts that utilize the belt color system to represent progress. We entertainingly offer quality dance instruction! We are a very friendly community, and our goal is to make everyone feel at home when they walk into the studio.
Ballroom dance is more encompassing than it may initially seem. While we teach traditional ballroom dances (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep, Cha Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Salsa, Merengue, Hustle, Bolero, Mambo, Night Club 2-Step, to name a few). We also teach a style called Theater Arts, which can be a little more lyrical and includes tricks or aerial work.
As adults, we don’t often go on “field trips,” but traveling with the studio offers a fun way to get to know some other students better while participating in a fun event and learning something new! We also do a fair amount of travel! We travel all across the country to participate in ballroom dancing competitions, and we travel to dance camps.
What changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
The great thing about ballroom dance is that it is a social activity. Humans crave social outlets and activity if the pandemic has taught us anything. For that reason, while we could be affected by a recession, a future pandemic, or whatever else life decides to throw our way, I do think that the ballroom dance industry, as a whole, will survive.
- Our Introductory Lessons are $35.
- We offer a new student special called Give Us a Twirl, which includes 5 private lessons and 5 group classes, which is available to all new students. We then offer packages of private lessons, suited to the needs of all types of dancers.
- All of our group classes are $15 per person, but if you are taking private lessons, the price decreases to $5 per person.
- We offer three different wedding dance packages!
- All of our social dances are $10 per person.