James West was only 3 years old when his mother began teaching him how to cha-cha in their living room in Frankfurt, Germany. He was immediately entranced by the moves, and continued to study the intricate style dances, such as ballroom, rhythm and Latin, as he grew older.A renowned dance teacher on the East End for the past 13 years, Mr. West recently decided to re-brand himself, and his new dance studio—The Hamptons Dance Authority, located at the former Arthur Murray Dance Center off County Road 39 in Southampton—opened this fall.
“We decided we wanted to update our concept of dance here in the Hamptons,” Mr. West said this week. “We wanted to be able to model ourselves in a way that we could offer programs to the general public that may be a little more manageable for everyone’s pocketbook, and we want to attract more business.”
The biggest shift, Mr. West explained, will be in the way the classes are taught. In the past, dances were taught as part of private lessons; now, the school will focus on group instruction.
With the group courses, The Hamptons Dance Authority will allow dancers to sign up for more specialized classes, like the salsa. “It is very flexible,” he said of the new programming.
Another change will be in the students themselves. Traditionally, those taking the ballroom classes were over the age of 40. The new school will aim to bring in a younger demographic.
Additionally, the school is looking to expand its offerings to include ballet and hip-hop. It will also be offering LaBlast, a partner-free dance fitness program created by Louis van Amstel of Dancing with the Stars fame.
Additionally, Mr. West is planning to launch a youth after-school program, where children and teenagers can visit his studio after finishing their normal classes.
Registration for the next dance session, which starts in January, is ongoing and will continue through Tuesday, December 24. Mr. West is offering a 13-week ballroom academy package. Students will meet twice a week and learn all of the traditional dances. The cost is either $25 per session or $650 for the whole program. Also available are monthly classes in the Argentine tango and the salsa. For more information, call (631) 283-1488.
“I love teaching, because it is great watching people develop and get it,” Mr. West said. “They really kind of become different people. One of our mottoes is, ‘We change peoples lives through dancing.’”