Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media
Lisa Chester wants to dance her way to a better community.
Chester, who owns Delta Dance Academy in Greenville, Miss., decided to start her own dance school last spring after thinking about it for years.
“It was one of those great ideas that you have but you never try to make it actually happen. I knew a lot of young ladies who wanted to take dance classes and parents who wanted to put their daughters in dance class, but the tuition was extremely high for them at the dance schools that were already here,” said Chester. “I realized that I had all the ability to help them and make a difference.”
Prior to opening up the school, Chester started off having a few dance sessions in her own home for young girls she knew personally. Chester opened her studio in August 2012. She says many community leaders helped her with financing the project and with finding a studio to support her program.
According to Chester, Delta Dance Academy tries to allow young people to express themselves through dance and to experience the rewards of meeting new people. She charges a $50 monthly for each student, and works with parents who have more than one child to make the lessons affordable.
“If it was possible, I would not charge anything. I tried to come down to the cheapest price as possible because I want every girl with a desire to dance be able to participate. I know how it feels to miss out on activities because your family lives on a budget,” says Chester.
One reason Chester can keep costs down is thanks to her staff. Kwema Webster is a hip-hop dancer. He turned down Chester’s offer to pay for his work; instead, he has chosen to volunteer his time and his talents.
“The atmosphere is great, especially if you are dancer. We have the mirrors up which motivates you to dance. It is like one big dancing family,” says Webster.
Chester is preparing her students for their first dance showcase on May 18 at Greenville-Weston High School. Chester and her staff have scheduled four-hour practice sessions each day from now until the day of the recital.
Off the dance floor, Chester tries to teach the girls how to cooperate, how to help one another and how to work as a team.
“I enjoy coming to dance class because me and my friends get to dance together and we get to make Mrs. Lisa happy,” says six-year-old Jakira Edwards.
For more information on how to get your child involved, contact Lisa Chester at (662) 820-3230.
Dance instructor Kwema Webster describes the atmosphere at the studio.