Art Downey with Melissa at Parchment Stars Dance
Art was first introduced to dance at the age of 4 by his Aunt Eunice Thomas. For the next two years Art studied ballet and tap at her Battle Creek dance school.
Art has been teaching ballroom dance now for over tweny years. In 2002 he and his wife Jill opened Kalamazoo DanceSport, in Kalamazoo, across from Borgess Hospital, where they continue to teach today.
Art's interest in ballroom began after his future wife Jill accepted a position at a local ballroom dance studio and he realized he better learn to dance or he was going to spend a lot of time on the sidelines. So Art pursued a career in dance and began teaching along with Jill at the same studio.
They soon left this first studio and ran their own series of classes at the Academy of Dance and Related Arts in Coldwater, MI.
In 1999 Art began instructing for T & E dance studio in Comstock, MI where he was exposed to championship level training from local and national champions. Art participated in Pro-Amateur competitions as well as performing and choreographing Pro-Am and professional showcase routineeas.
Art also traveled to Lansing once or twice a week for the next two years to work for and study with American Smooth Champion Terry Worrall.
Finally, in 2002 Art and Jill realized their dream and opened Kalamazoo DanceSport. Since then they have continued to study with national and world champions, competed in Pro-Am competitions and have organized performances for local charity organizations as well as their own event at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.
Jill Downey with her husband Art
My dance journey started when my parents enrolled me in a ballet class when I was in first grade. The music, the movement, transported you to a world removed from school and chores. Then one day when I was eight years old I saw a ballroom dance competition on PBS and was amazed at the precision and the speed! My favorite was the Quickstep. How did two people move so fast, their feet so close together, perfectly synchronized without a hint of effort? Ladies in the arms of their men, swirling around the floor wearing beautiful flowing gowns looking like a field of butterflies. I wanted into this new world.
I got my chance after moving to Kalamazoo and took advantage of an opportunity to take a position at a local ballroom dance studio in 1996.
After several late night dance excursions it was clear to my husband that he better learn to ballroom dance and got a job at the same studio.
Years later I married my dance partner for life.
We opened our studio, Kalamazoo DanceSport in 2002 and have never looked back.