Brantley Arrington spent 11 years away from Columbus, dancing professionally in Chicago.
He returned home this summer after retiring as a dance performer and will now be teaching at the Patty Taylor Dance Center at the Academy of Fine Arts. Arrington will also become the center's artistic director, working directly with his former teacher.
Taylor said she has a list of former students who are making names for themselves in other cities, including Jamie Lane in Nashville, Ivy Williams in Las Vegas, Kate Rouse in Charlotte, N.C., and Cheryl Burns in Colorado.
Twins Leah and Leslie Flynn, who went to Georgia College and State University and Valdosta State University, respectively, were captains of their colleges' dance teams. Leah Flynn is teaching at the center now. She's also coaching the Hardaway High School dance team this year.
On Aug. 3, Taylor began her 45th year of teaching dance in Columbus.
Arrington, now 33, is a 1997 graduate of Pacelli High School and received degrees from Columbus State University in early childhood education and Texas Christian University in ballet performance and choreography. He received his masters in teaching education and dance from North Park University in Chicago.
Like many men, he was late
starting dance lessons. He was 16, and would watch his sister, who was taking classes at the center. He said he wore out three carpets in his family's home, working on choreography that he learned from watching his sister.
Once he began taking classes, he said "nobody ever knew because I never talked about it." Even now, boys who take dance classes are often objects of ridicule and bullying, he said.
Arrington wants to change that and become a "great role model" for boys who want to dance in Columbus.
Things are changing a little bit, he said.
This summer, during summer camp, one of the girls brought her boyfriend and his teammate to a partnering class.
"We had those two guys -- wrestlers -- who loved it," Arrington said. "They kept saying 'This is awfully fun.' And what boy wouldn't want to be in a room full of beautiful ladies?"
This fall, he's hoping to start an all-boys class.
As he danced this past year in Chicago, he said he knew it was time to hang up his dancing shoes. He wanted to be back in Columbus to be closer to his family.
"I always wanted to come back here," Arrington said. "I was ready for a change and to go to the next direction. I want to teach what I learned to take this studio to the next level."