The new 218 Dance Project has joined the growing arts community of West Duluth.

Co-owners Nicole Humes and Ashley Thompson share the mindset that Twin Ports youths are the future leaders of the community. They have a desire to invest in that future by committing to giving back to the community.

“We want to provide more than just dance education," Humes said. "We want to instill our core values into each and every dancer that walks through our doors. Our hope is to develop the Twin Ports youth into engaged, thoughtful and inspiring community members.”

Their plan is to accomplish this while providing exceptional dance education. The vision of 218 is to support the community by expanding the arts in the surrounding area.

“We are both in love with the Twin Ports and want the community to play an integral role in our studio,” Thompson said. "Dance teaches not only artistry but also respect, discipline, confidence and self-esteem.”

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The 218 Dance Project season will include competitions and also fundraising for community causes. The mid-season performance will not require money for a ticket, but instead a nonperishable food item that will be donated to the local food shelf. The 218 Christmas party will include donating and wrapping presents for organizations such as Toys for Tots or local shelters.

“We both feel passionately about providing more opportunities for the dancers within the community, while expanding dance education in the Twin Ports,” Thompson said.

The co-owners are “excited to partner with the City of Duluth to conduct outdoor dance classes, outreach in the schools, and offer free or discounted classes in day cares,” Humes said.

The studio's teachers donate a percentage of their pay to the “Sponsor a Dancer” scholarship fund. Scholarship applications are available online and external donations are welcome as well.

The studio will provide two recreational and competition dance instruction with a strong technical foundation in ballet. Classes offered include tap, jazz, lyrical/modern/contemporary, ballet, pointe, hip-hop, parent-child class, creative movement, improvisation, adult classes and acrobatics. The new facility welcomes dancers of all ages to four studios with floating Marley floors and professional instructors. 218 Dance Project has a three-phase COVID-19 plan in place following the strictest recommendations.

218 Dance Project Open House will offer free classes on Tuesday, Aug. 18 from 5-8 p.m.

For more information

Address: 5713 Grand Ave.

Online: 218 Dance Project Facebook page, Instagram, or 218danceproject.com.

Kelly Sue Coyle is a Duluth freelance writer and dance reviewer for the News Tribune.