The rhythmic sounds of drum beats and dancers' feet fill the East Athens Educational Dance Center again, as the center reopened this week to hold dance classes three days a week for its accelerated students. Due to COVID-19, dancers are encouraged to wear masks and are not permitted to keep their belongings inside the locker rooms to avoid congregating.

On Tuesday, Ronnie Anderson, the program specialist, instructed a Fusion class, a cross between African modern dance and ballet. The class has two levels of dancers with ages ranging from seven to 21 years old. Drummer and co-founder of Ballethnic in Atlanta, Waverly Lucas, also instructs at the dance center. Nena Gilreath, the facility and program supervisor and ballerina, joined in on the class as well.

The East Athens Educational Dance Center was founded by Lois Ewings in 2005 after receiving a SPLOST grant to construct the building. Ewings had served as a volunteer dance instructor since 1987. The number of students she taught grew until she was able to teach full-time.

“The community rallied to support black kids in this area, to give them a positive and constructive outlet,” Gilreath said.

Typically, the dance center offers classes in ballet, point work, tap, jazz, African, and hip-hop dancing along with African drumming and a stretch class for adults in the fall. 

This story is part of The Red & Black photo desk’s weekly series recognizing Black-owned businesses in Athens.

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