To celebrate Valentine’s Day in the most dance-centric way possible, we sat down with five powerhouse dance-teaching couples to talk about their love stories. What do they admire about each other? What are their couple goals and their teaching philosophies, and how do they make their relationships work, especially when they work together? Get ready to swoon!
Antonio and Kirven teach class at COCAPhoto by Peter Wochniak (courtesy of Center of Creative Arts)
Kirven Douthit-Boyd and Antonio Douthit-Boyd have a marriage that is swoon-worthy. The two world-class veterans of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater have traveled the world performing and living their dreams together. Once the couple retired from the stage in 2015, they chose to bring their talents to the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) in St. Louis, Missouri, where Antonio had danced as a teenager.
Kirven: At the beginning, we honestly didn’t like each other. We had a kind of male rivalry going on, and we just weren’t interested at all. As time went on, though, we got to know each other by traveling together with the company, and we discovered that we were both kind people and that we really liked each other. We dated for eight years before we decided to get married. Our wedding was at City Hall, and we had a big party at the Ailey building with our close friends and family.
Kirven: We had been coming to COCA to teach workshops for years while we were in Ailey. Each time we came, we noticed that there was a lot of talent to be developed here. We just kept thinking, “What could we do for them if we were here and working with them full-time?” We felt a need to make an impact on the city of St. Louis, and so in 2015 we moved here to teach. We feel a strong need to give back, and this is how we are choosing to do it.
Antonio: Kirven’s ability to focus on minute details is a huge strength. He can zero in on what a student needs to work on to have a breakthrough. He doesn’t let children give up or settle for less than excellence. He pushes them in a healthy way. He doesn’t act like a dictator or incite fear in them. He’s a nurturer who genuinely wants his students to succeed.
Kirven: I think the most important thing our students can learn from us is that they are ultimately accountable for their own success. We will push them and encourage them, but at the end of the day, we can’t make them put in the effort. Whether they dance or not, I hope they leave us with an understanding of accountability.
Antonio: What Kirven and I have found in striving to be successful teachers is that we need to be honest with our students. We need to tell them the truth about their potential to reach their goals, and where they stand in the world of dance. We never discourage them from pursuing a path, but we also recognize that not everyone can be a professional ballet dancer. That being said, there are other options and different solutions that we can help them achieve, if we tell them the truth and guide them toward their dreams.
Kirven: It’s nice to be with someone who completely understands your frustrations and your joys because they are going through it all at the same time. We are always on the same page, and never get tired of talking about what we both feel passionately about—which is dancing and teaching. We can talk about it constantly and honestly never get bored. I love it.