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Kenneth Jarvis Becomes First African-American Owner of a Fred Astaire Dance Studio

Kenneth Jarvis became the first African-American owner of a Fred Astaire Dance Studio franchise in 2014. His passion for the arts started in his childhood, growing up studying violin, French and ballet. And while in college, he became part of The Young Eight string octet. The octet was created by the violin virtuoso, Quinton Morris.

Jarvis picked up business and finance skills while still part of the art world, but his main focus remained to be the arts. He had his first job back in high school where he worked in the administrative offices of the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra. There he was put in charge of handling advertising and data entry; and in the process he decided to take a break from the arts and went into the banking industry.

After being away from what he love for a while, he decided to transition back into the world of the arts, to do what he loves. He had travelled abroad and was living in Paris, before returning back to the US. And after moving back to the US, Chicago, he decided to look for what to do in the art world and opted for the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Although he had performed several types of dance like ballroom dancing was the first he learnt and it was something he wanted to continue doing.

Black Enterprise explains that as he was looking into joining the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, “It just so happened they were looking for instructors. Jarvis applied, and through the interview process, he became quite impressed with the mission of the franchise, teaching methods, values, innovation, reputation, and its overall success. He was hired and taught for six years. Success as an instructor led to a position as a director. Jarvis, enjoying the experience, considered purchasing a Fred Astaire Studio franchise of his own—that’s when opportunity stepped in. An owner in the area was considering selling his studio.”


Jarvis is very happy proud of the accomplishments he has been able to make thus far. And the growth he has witnessed is one of the reasons he does not regret going back to what he loves.

Describing the success of Fred Astaire studio, Black Enterprise writes, “In his first year, Jarvis saw a 20% growth quarter over quarter. The growth metrics have changed since then, yet, between the eight locations in Chicago, his is a top-performing studio. His studio has also been recognized as one of 2018’s Top Studios for Financial Growth among Chicagoland Fred Astaire Dance Studios, one of 2016 and 2018’s Top Performing Studio in Competitive Dancesport at Indiana Challenge among Midwest Dance Studios, one of 2016, 2017, and 2018’s Top Performing Studios in Competitive Dancesport among Chicagoland Fred Astaire Dance Studios, and one of 2014’s Top Performing Studio in Competitive Dancesport among all Fred Astaire Dance Studios across the world. The studio has also been recognized for its staff, sales, and financial growth.”

In his journey to making history and achieving success, Jarvis has been a judge at dance competitions elementary school students in underprivileged areas; and his experience has inspired him to desire to start a similar program of his own. He says that dance “can be physically, emotionally, and mentally healing.”


Written by How Africa

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