I enrolled in a dance studio in Feb 2006 and discovered I really liked dancing. I liked the exercise and could see that I was thriving and had a somewhat natural knack for dance. I liked the elegance and ballroom dresses and at first everyone was really nice. I enrolled for more advanced classes and shows; comps; coaching. I began to feel uncomfortable sometimes because I noticed they began to use controlling tactics; evasive behaviors; intimidation & manipulation tactics.
I spent a lot of money for lessons; shows; comps and all of these were prepaid. On three different occasions events I paid for where not promoted by them and they said we could not go but would not refund my money. While a student there, I was beaten and attacked by two instructors causing serious injury and emotional injury to my health. They are experts at bullying, intimidation and manipulation.
I was threatened by them if I tried to do anything legally against them. I am a 52 yr. old mother and grandmother. I spent my life savings there. I worked really hard at exercise to lose weight and get in shape and I was doing great and feeling really good. I studied books and dance teaching tapes at home that I bought from dance supply company and I was persistent in wanting to learn dance like an athlete learns a sport.
In Jan and Feb. 2007 I was physically beaten and attacked by two instructors there. The owners and management would do nothing and denied any accountability or that anything had happened or that I was hurt. It took weeks for me to heal physically but emotionally I am hurt so much that the pain is almost unbearable.
I had told them that since they were not going on a trip that I had prepaid part of that they would have to refund my money and this was when the abuse escalated and then the intimidation and manipulation and just overall bullying continued and I still had a lot of stuff that I had prepaid and I stayed to work through that and eventually found a teacher outside of that studio to teach me and that made the situation worst too because they resented that and after I competed in a competition and my picture was in the paper with my new teacher, then they started acting better; but then when I signed up for another competition with my new teacher; they really started to treat me badly again and eventually I just had to hire an attorney.
I still have events that I paid for there. What started out as something good for a retired person and healthy and everything I had read about pursuing ones dreams has turned out to be the biggest rip off/life threatening/harmful experience because of these snakes in tuxedos that set themselves up as dance teachers. They are a disgrace to any true performer of the arts. They are really crooks, criminals, bullies, liars, cheats.
I had thought that one day I might want to teach dance or have my studio; but these people have hurt me so much that right now I am trying to recuperate, move forward, keep going, let go but sometimes it is difficult to feel anything except the emotional and physical pain. The sad thing is that I am not the only one that they have done similar things to and they have done this for years and they are still getting away with it.
They do not care about me or anyone else. They just use people to milk all the money they can from the customer and they don't care if you get what you want or learn or if you are satisfied. I was told that what I wanted did not matter that the only thing that was important was their school. I was a dental professional for many years and I attended a few continuing education and motivation and customer service seminars and in the practice that I worked my last years, we strived for excellence.
I really do not understand how this business, Steps Ballroom and Dance Club in Hammond, La. is still in business. Some of these people moved from studios in New Orleans and have been doing this many years. How many more people have been hurt by them? I reported them to the Consumer Protection Agency. The Better Business Bureau would not take my complaint.
I have filed legal proceedings for damages for the injuries and another will be filed for the contractual problems. I have made statements to the authorities for the physical abuse which is determined as Battery II.
I am having a really rough time keeping going. I am still trying to dance some. Now, doctor appointments take the place of dance lessons. I don't have income now since I am not working and I used my life savings to take lessons. They told me their school was like a college. I thought I would be able to advance to a career in dance in some form. These people are destroyers of peoples dreams and are dangerous.
The instructor who attacked me, Ben Henry, was angry. We were not dancing and he was not lifting me an a theater arts move. I told him I did not want something in my choreography and he grabbed me with his hands around my face and neck and jerked me back and forth causing severe whiplash. I am still suffering with these injuries.
My teacher, Lon Wilkinson, also on two occasions inflicted trauma to me through a beating on buttocks and legs hitting me many times very hard and also a body slamming session under the guise of being a dance lesson. He had told me that he was very well trained in martial arts so I know he knew how hard he was hitting me.
I don't know what is going to become of me, my dancing, or happen with this lawsuit to try and recover some of my losses. Maybe others will read this and come forward.