While Wilhite-Carter noticed plenty of sports opportunities for children in Arbutus, she saw the area lacking in dance programs for children and fitness programs for women.
"A lot of the girls like dance, but everyone who has come in said they have to go outside the area to get it," she said.
While there are other studios in the area, and other recreational outlets such as sports or karate, Wilhite-Carter believes her business fills a void in the area, particuarly for people who live within walking distance from the studio, in the space that formerly housed Sorrento Cafe. She wants to provide community events at her studio, such as neighborhood block parties.
A variety of classes for children and adults are being offered, from zumba and strength training to ballet, jazz and the art of seduction. A complete list of classes, prices and schedule can be found at DanceSolutions.net. For adult fitness classes, an eight week session costs $80 for registration, and $12 drop-in rate. Dance classes start at $38 per month for introduction classes. Discounts are available for multiple classes and multiple siblings.
Work is in progress at the studio, which Wilhite-Carter got the keys to in January. About $10,000 has been put into the facility to get it up and running, she said. Work to be done includes adding mirrors on the walls, outside signs and ceiling work.
Wilhite-Carter has taught dance since she was 16. She started taking classes at 11 at Backstage Dance Studio in Columbia. When her mother was no longer able to afford classes, the staff at the studio said she could apprentice there in order to pay off some of the bill.
From there, she caught a love of teaching. Now 37, she is trained in Cecchetti ballet and certified by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America in group exercise. She's also a certified zumba and PiYo — a combination of pilates and yoga — instructor.
She enjoys being able to teach people skills through dance, including self-confidence, teamwork, individuality, self-expression, as well as strength and flexibility.
"You get to see the kids develop and you get to see a sparkle in their eyes," she said. "It gives me joy to work with them and teach them different things."
Lakeisha Holmes of Owings Mills brought two of her children, ages 9 and 10, to a recent class at the studio as a way for them to stay active. She described Wilhite-Carter as driven and ambitious.
"She's a great person [and] a great instructor," she said.
The studio will offer a trio of one-week dance camps in July for children of all ages. In August, registration will start for a school-year-long intensive program which will culminate in a recital in June.
"Dance has always had a level of popularity. Humans have been dancing since the beginning of time as a form of expression," said Amy Fitterer, executive director of Dance/USA, a national trade group. "Right now there's a zeitgeist of dancing being cool and being civically active."
Fitterer believes increased interest in dance is due in part to the success of long-running telelvision shows such as "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" and popular movies such as "Black Swan" and the "Step Up" series of films, along with the rise in fame of Misty Copeland, the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.