Elena Lewis was sitting on her parents’ couch in May 2006 in their Washington, D.C., home when her mom tossed her a copy of The Washington Post and told her to find a job.
Flipping through the pages, Lewis landed on an ad for dance instructors with Arthur Murray Dance Centers. “Will train,” the ad read.
“I started joking around that I would become a ballroom dance instructor,’” Lewis said. “I’ve never danced before in my life. I had no dance training whatsoever.’”
But Lewis’ mother told her it was not such a crazy idea if the company would train her, so Lewis walked into the Washington, D.C., studio and was told that if she trained and got certified, she could teach. And she did.
Lewis has now been with the dance company 12 years, and along the way met her husband, Carlos Hernandez, who has danced with Arthur Murray for 21 years. The couple taught and danced in D.C., until almost three years ago when they decided to move to the Austin area with their daughter and open their own studio.
The two own the Arthur Murray studio in Georgetown, where they teach 35 to 40 private lessons per week. The 2,600-square-foot studio also does not have any mirrors “because people don’t like mirrors,” Hernandez said.
Along with the private lessons, the duo also teaches weekly group classes in over 30 different styles of dance. They train individuals, couples and groups ranging from those who just want to get out of the house to those who have special occasions coming up, such as weddings and quinceañeras, Hernandez said.
“The reason why we do this is that we change people’s lives,” Hernandez said. “We have some people who have been here for two years almost … It’s brought better health for them, or a stress reliever or maybe its rekindled their marriage.”
The two said they can teach whatever style of dance the person wants to learn and are always willing to learn new ones.
“We’ll work with what you have already. We’ll work from scratch,” Hernandez said. “And if you’re experienced, we’ll give little tips.”