In a space that was once considered a place that would never work, the Society Hill Dance Academy has been providing the gift of dance to the community for almost 13 years.
Founded in 2002 by Shana Vitoff, the Society Hill Dance Academy uses the intimacy of ballroom dancing to connect with its students.
“It’s a community,” said dance instructor Kate Slovich. “To make sure you have that vibe all the time you have to make sure you have excellent customer service and that you have people who really care working on the staff.”
The SHDA is not only teaching it’s students how to ballroom dance but it’s a great way for them to meet new people, get or stay healthy, or prepare for upcoming nuptials or events where they have to dance in front of an audience.
“It’s fun seeing your students,” said Colleen Cheong, a dance instructor. “Sometimes if a student has been injured or they had something going on in their life everybody runs to them like a relative they haven’t seen in a really long time.”
In 2008 and 2012, Philadelphia Magazine awarded the SHDA Best of Philly for best dance instruction.
“They don’t always have ballroom dance classes as a category but whenever they do, we always win,” said Vitoff.
In the 13 years that the studio has been in operation, 13 couples met there and then married. An estimated three more are pending, the staff reports.
In 2009 they founded the nonprofit organization Philadelphia Dance Foundation, which offers a 10-week dance course to children in underprivileged schools. The program introduces students to music and dances from different cultures that they would otherwise never have known.
“They’re learning how to dance but what they’re really learning are social skills and etiquette,” said Vitoff.
Vitoff credits a little bit of luck, a lot of hard work and really and truly loving what you do as to why she believes the studio has had such success.
“A lot of dance studios don’t have the same culture we have here, our culture is very much a family,” said Vitoff.
– Text, video and images by Rochelle Brown.