08/21/13 — Introducing dance: Pikeville couple looks to spread love of dance to younger generation

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Introducing dance: Pikeville couple looks to spread love of dance to younger generation

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 21, 2013 1:46 PM

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JoAnn and Marty Barbour work with Charlee Thomas, 9, as she takes a ballroom dancing class -- part of the Pikeville couple's Youth Ballroom Program they're teaching at the Top Hat dance studio in downtown Goldsboro. Miss Thomas has been taking lessons for just a couple of months, but her favorite dance style is swing.

It's not unusual for young girls to begin taking tap and ballet or other forms of dance at young ages.

Not so much for young boys.

Likewise, ballroom dancing hasn't always been a go-to class for children or adults -- at least not until the ABC show "Dancing With the Stars" took over the television landscape and breathed new life into the art form. Whether people are taking lessons or simply tuning in from the living room, the dancing style has become popular again.

JoAnn and Marty Barbour can relate.

Eight years ago, after the Pikeville couple's children had all left home, they decided to do something for themselves. Ballroom dancing became a passion, and they quickly advanced from amateurs to established performers, competitors and teachers.

Those experiences, and desire to share their passion, led them to establish the Youth Ballroom Program in downtown Goldsboro, which they hope will do more than just provide students with technique and an ability to count steps.

"I do see that it helps self-confidence more than anything," Mrs. Barbour said. "That would be the No. 1 seller for the program.

"The social skills -- the fact is that it encourages their self-confidence and it gives them a skill that they'll use for the rest of their lives, when they go to a wedding, etc."

Since it takes two to tango, the "partner sport" is something she'd encourage both boys and girls to take up, she said.

"One thing I have noticed is that young boys are really unsure about how to approach girls, how to touch and treat her like a lady and dance with them," she said. "We're in a county and I know there's probably not a lot of dads that would think of putting their son in ballroom class.

"But we plan on being there every Tuesday night and we're hoping that it will grow. If we get a handful, they will tell their friends."

The weekly group class will cover such dances as Latin cha cha, rumba, swing, waltz and fox trot.

While regular attendance is encouraged, Mrs. Barbour said students can join at any time as lessons are pay-as-you-go. The only requirement, she said, is a form signed by a parent.

And a willingness to learn and have a good time.

"We're hoping to have it grow that way," she said.

Beyond that, she hinted, she and her husband would like to see the young people take their act on the road.

"We're also hoping to get the word out there to the public that if there's any venues out there for us to perform -- we're not ready yet but that's our goal -- we want to do public appearances in the mall, things like that," she said. "We want to get it out there that we're having fun."

Classes start Sept. 3 and will be held every Tuesday evening at Top Hat Studio on Center Street. The hour-long sessions begin at 6:30 for ages 6-12 and 7:30 for teens. Cost is $10 per session but scholarships are available for qualifying students.

For more information on the program, call 919-920-9700 or 919-580-1120 or visit www.ballroom.org. There is also a Facebook page for the program, at YouthDanceBallroomStyle.