EXCLUSIVE: Dance Studio Owner Reveals How Dads Started Taking Ballet And Became Overnight Viral Stars

Black dads with daughters dancing ballet

Dance Studio Owner Reveals How Dads Started Taking Ballet And Became Overnight Viral Stars

BET spoke to E’Chappe Dance Arts owner, Erin Lee.

Published November 15, 2019

Written by Tweety Elitou

Thanks to Think Like a Man actor Michael Ealy, “Dance Dads” are taking over social media, and it all started with a reposted video showcasing how far fathers will go to please their daughters. 

"Proud to say I don't know one father who would be afraid to hold down his child this way,” Ealy captioned an Instagram video of Black fathers participating in a ballet class with little girls.

The father of two continued, “Can't say this was the case growing up. It's the little things we do that help raise kings and queens. S/O to all the fathers out there and the fellas who showed up for this class. SALUTE!”

Almost overnight, the video went viral with other celebrities and news outlets reposting the refreshing sights of daddy-daughter bonding. 

Even filmmaker Ava Duvernay shared in the heartwarming moment. "I miss my Dad. He would have done this for me," she tweeted along with the clip. "To all the many, many millions of brothers out there being great, thank you."

We soon learned that this footage came from a two-hour "Daddy and Me" dance class that is held at the Philadelphia dance studio, E’Chappe Dance Arts

Eager to learn more about the viral snippet that has taken the world by storm, we spoke with the studio’s owner Erin Lee about the inspiration that led to such an unconventional partner scenario. 

“I decided to start these classes when I realized that the world needed to experience more of what I get to see on Saturday mornings— Black fathers picking up and dropping off their daughters to dance, fathers changing costumes, and even fathers hanging around until class is over,” Erin shared with BET Digital exclusively. 

“A show exists for Dance Moms, but nobody has witnessed my committed and incredible Dance Dads, so I offered them a spot on the dance floor.” 

While she admits the invitations received “very slow RSVPs,” soon the class began to gain popularity. 

“Our dads are fairly shy men,” she said. “[But their] hearts, bigger than life, lead them to the ultimate acceptance [of the invitation].” 

According to Erin, the class that perfectly fuses ballet with yoga (BOGA) is taught once a month— for fathers (father figures) and their daughters' ages 4-8— by former Disney dancer Tymeisha Anderson, who the students (and parents) affectionately refer to as “Ms. T.”

Taken aback by the positive responses to the video, Erin, who began instructing and choreographing at the age of 18, finds delight in the public’s reactions. 

“People want more,” Erin said. “They are saluting these dads and requesting their stories. People have even emailed us demanding a ‘Dance Dads’ reality show. The feedback has been mind-blowing. The praise these dads are getting is well deserved. The world loves their dedication, I couldn't be happier for them!”

As far as the class participants, “They are so proud of their impact, humbled, and even thinking of more ways to pull more dads in the door!”

Since the video went viral, we are happy to report more men have signed up for the class, and the BOGA Dads and their daughters are preparing for their “Home for Christmas” performance in the school’s Winter Holiday Recital, set for late December. 

“Contrary to what society highlights, GREAT DADS DO EXISTS,” the 25-year dance vet concludes.

We cannot be more delighted to see how choreography is helping to foster stronger father-daughter bonds and simultaneously breaking outdated stereotypes about men who dance. 

If you are a father (or father figure) looking to become a BOGA Dad, get ready to rejoice! Due to high demand, a BOGA Tour 2020 is in the works as the E’Chappe Dance Arts team prepares to bring the classes to NYC, ATL, D.C., and Charlotte, North Carolina.

To keep up with the feet of these dancing dads, be sure to visit the studio's website

Editor's note: Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.

(Photo: Courtesy of Erin Lee, E’Chappe Dance Arts)

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