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On Dec. 1, LaTonya Swann held a grand-opening party for the dance studio she’d dreamed of bringing to her native Prince George’s County. Swann’s facility, Seize the Dance, is the latest dance studio to arrive in Capitol Heights, Md., and it’s quite a whopper: At 8,500 square feet, the new space consists of two large studios, a theater, and several lounge rooms. It’s another major achievement for Swann, 21, who last year won the first season of BET’s dance competition series, Born to Dance.
Using the $50,000 prize she earned from the show, Swann converted the previously empty space into a functional location intended for both dance instruction and performance. Among its services, Seize the Dance Gym offers nightly dance classes, ranging in style from ballet to contemporary jazz to hip-hop, as well as Friday and Saturday fitness classes and an after-school program for kids. Swann, along with her staff of 13 instructors, handles the space’s operation.
The gym will also serve as headquarters for Agency 9, a Maryland-based talent agency that Swann describes as “a collective body of dancers, choreographers, stylists, [and] anyone who is doing anything creative in the area.”
Swann moved to Los Angeles last year and now commutes between coasts. Raised in District Heights, she says she’s deeply invested in improving the D.C. dance industry. “We have the talent but not the exposure to make it bigger than it is,” she says.
She says she’s been working toward opening a dance studio for a long time, but the time didn’t come along until recently. “I’m the kind of person where if I can’t do it right, I don’t want to do it at all,” she says. “I put it on the back burner for a while, but it’s burning hot right now.”
Seize the Dance is located at 9251 Hampton Overlook, Capitol Heights, Md. (301) 333-0015.